HMRC has confiscated assets worth £39m in around a year – a more than 700 per cent increase from 2020.
The confiscations, made via account forfeiture orders over the past 11 months, dwarf that of the £4.8m the taxman snagged a year prior, according to law firm RPC.
It comes as HMRC ramps up its efforts in tackling fraud, after the crime soared during the pandemic.
Senior associate at RPC, Alice Kemp, said: “HMRC has shown a real willingness to freeze and forfeit the assets of individuals they suspect of fraud. These measures are by no means reserved for organised criminal gangs.”
The tax and customs body admitted last year that as much as £5.8bn had been lost to fraud through the government’s Covid-19 economic support schemes.
Head of contentious tax and financial crime at RPC, Adam Craggs explained that the “relative ease” in obtaining an account forfeiture order, or account freezing order, meant the taxman had been increasingly taking advantage of them.
“The threshold for obtaining an Account Freezing Order is suspicion based and therefore low – there is no need for there to have been an associated criminal conviction or even an investigation,” he said.
“The sharp rise in assets forfeited in the last year suggests that HMRC consider these orders to be the ‘go-to’ option when seeking to deprive someone suspected of wrong-doing of their ill-gotten gains.”