Tax experts have criticised HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) campaign to collect unpaid tax from plumbers. Gary Ashford, of the Chartered Institute of Taxation said that the speedy deadline and a lack of clear advertising to plumbers, had left some in the trade unaware of the campaign.
HMRC wrote to 50,000 tradespeople in the plumbing industry warning them to pay any tax they owed, or face big fines. This was a general mail shot, not the result of any specific suspicions that recipients were avoiding tax.
Some 600 plumbers have come clean on unpaid tax, prompting questions about the success of a campaign in which 50,000 letters were sent out by the tax authority. “The 600 is more than nothing, but it could have been a lot more if HMRC had engaged with this group,” Ashford said.
“There should have been an education campaign in place ahead of the disclosure campaign.”
HMRC believed some registered plumbers and gas fitters in the UK were being paid cash in hand and failing to pay tax.
According to the government, £45 billion is lost each year through unpaid taxes in the UK. A budget of £917 million has been made available to HMRC to tackle evasion and avoidance.