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Affluent tax dodgers pay out £373m as HMRC tightens net

HM REVENUE & Customs’ (HMRC) crackdown on wealthy tax evaders is gathering pace after investigators clawed back £373m last year, an increase of 21 per cent on 2008’s haul.

Hedge fund managers and investment bankers were among those targeted by HMRC teams who examined the affairs of more than 50,000 people earning in excess of £100,000.

Over five years the amount recovered by officials has more than trebled. The figures suggest amnesties on offshore accounts and the closure of special schemes for avoiding inheritance levies and capital gains tax have begun to bear fruits.

However, financial advisers warned HMRC would have to renew its efforts after April when the top band for income tax jumps to 50 per cent.

Ben Yearsley of Bristol-based Hargreaves Lansdown said: “As taxes rise people will try more and more to legally avoid paying them, so it’s a cat-and-mouse game.”

Foreign nationals living in the UK came under particular scrutiny from the authorities last year. Phil Berwick of law firm McGrigors, which compiled the data, said: “The HMRC is becoming more focused on this area and it’s not just about tax evasion – people can quite innocently fall under the microscope because their affairs aren’t set up correctly.”