HMRC Target Scrap Metal Dealers

HMRC has set up a new taskforce to tackle scrap metal dealers who are evading tax by deliberately suppressing their income or inflating expenditure.

The taskforce will pursue scrap merchants in Scotland and has been established to tackle tax evasion where the risk is high. This is only one of five taskforces that have been set up in different areas of the UK to combat tax evasion, the others being:

  • self-employed and/or corporate construction traders who evade tax in the North West and North Wales;
  • taxpayers failing to submit their Corporation Tax , Income Tax, PAYE and VAT returns in the South East;
  • fast food outlets evading tax in Scotland; and
  • landlords, owning or renting three or more properties, evading tax in the North West and North Wales.

The scrap metal dealer taskforce coincides with the recent demands for greater regulation of the industry as the rising price of copper has encouraged a spate of rail cable thefts. It is not known why only Scotland was chosen when such criminal activity is widespread.

Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion. The first taskforce was launched in May of this year and was concentrated on the restaurant trade. In total, HMRC plan to launch twelve taskforces in 2011/12 with more to follow in 2012/13.

By focusing on tax compliance, e.g. businesses record keeping, invokes memories of the methods and deterrents used to disrupt and bring to justice notorious gangsters of the earlier part of the last century.

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