Monday 10 February 2020 12:01 am

Number of dawn raids carried out by HMRC falls

The number of dawn raids carried out by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) fell last year, according to new data.

HMRC raided 1,082 homes and businesses as part of criminal investigations into tax evasion in the year to 31 March.

This represents a 27 per cent fall from the previous year when HMRC carried out 1,482 raids.

Dawn raids allow HMRC to gain entry to premises with a search warrant, using force if necessary.

Read more: HMRC collects extra £5.4bn via specialist fraud investigation team

Despite the number of raids falling, the amount of money collected by HMRC’s compliance arm increased from £30bn in 2017-18 to £33bn in 2018-19 and the total amount HMRC collected increased from £600bn in 2017-18 to £627bn last year.

Law firm Pinsent Masons, which compiled the figures, said the HMRC has more data at its disposal than previously so is able to be more targeted with its raids.

Andrew Sackey, partner at Pinsent Masons and former head of HMRC’s offshore, corporate and wealthy enforcement division, said: “These days, if HMRC has taken the decision that it’s necessary to raid a property, they are likely to already be armed with an abundance of data from multiple sources that will allow them to narrow the target of their search.”

And added: “Thanks to the common reporting standard and a host of additional powers such as production orders and information notices, HMRC now has far more information on taxpayers, whether that taxpayer is a person or a company, than it had just a couple of years ago.”

Pinsents said dawn raids usually take place in cases where HMRC suspects serious tax evasion, had been lied to as part of a civil fraud investigation, has concerns a suspect may attempt to destroy evidence or is concerned a suspect could be a flight risk.

Read more: HMRC collects nearly £10bn via tax probes

An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC is committed to ensuring all companies and individuals pay the right tax at the right time and will pursue those who fail to do so.

“We use a range of civil and criminal powers to tackle those committing serious fraud, which can lead to prosecution and imprisonment, life-changing penalties, seizure of assets, and sanctions.

“We take all necessary steps to recover money owed and since 2010, our criminal investigations have prevented the loss of £15.9bn, and resulted in more than 5,400 individuals being criminally convicted.”