HMRC Target Buy to Let Landlords

by Mark Johnston

HM Revenue and Customs launched 12 task forces in 2011/12 to crack down on tax evasion from high risk trade sectors, on of these sectors is  buy to let landlords and a spokesperson for them recently announced that they are ‘on target’ to collect more than £50 million as result of this launch.

Grant Summers, tax partner at Grant Thornton, said “HMRC has been using its information powers and researching industries to identify those that are more likely to harbour tax evaders”.

The taskforces were launched as a result of the government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax invasion, avoidance and fraud in 2011.

Mike down, tax investigations partner at Baker Tilly, stated that “this teamwork approach is becoming increasingly widespread and HM Revenue and Customs now seems to be in full flow in coming up with new team based initiatives”.

The property rental team are undertaking bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK and are expected to recover more than £17 million from tax dodgers. It also aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014/15.

This particular taskforce is to target specifically tax evasion amongst landlords who own and/or rent more than 3 properties.

These taskforces bring together specialists from across HM Revenue and Customs to tackle tax dodgers in a more effective manner than ever before.

David Gauke, the exchequer secretary, stated that “the government is determined to take action against those who attempt to avoid paying their fair share of tax and are determined therefore to clamp down on tax avoidance of all kinds”.

Mike Eland, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, suggests “deliberately evading tax can land people with a heavy fine or even a criminal record. This is not an empty threat”.

Derek Scott, director of tax investigations at KPMG in the UK, said “this latest announcement shows that it really is gloves off on dealing with tax dodgers”.

However, the move by the heavy handed taxman is likely to anger some UK taxpayers and businesses who are already unhappy that the HM revenue and Customs and have accused them of letting major companies ‘off the hook’ for vast amounts of tax. Therefore many believe that it is these large firms that should be targeted first.

Some experts believe that both the HM Revenue and Customs and the government need to tread very carefully as there is a major risk that some landlords may start ‘dumping’ property on the market. This in turn would cause house prices to fall which then directly affects banks balance sheets.

Others also feel that with out buy to let landlords the homelessness numbers would be in there millions.

Buy to let brokers however, have praised the HM Revenue and Customs for clamping down on tax evasion and say it will not affect landlords demand for property as there is ‘plenty of profit’ to be made in this sector.


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