Fall in number of ‘suspected’ taxpayers arrested by HMRC

The number of taxpayers arrested for suspected tax fraud has fallen to a five-year low, according to analysis by law firm RPC.

It says there was an 11% reduction in the number of HMRC arrests last year, compared with 877 made in 2017/18. Arrests topped the 1,000 mark in each of the preceding three years.

Adam Craggs, partner at RPC, said: “There has been some criticism of HMRC for being too ‘trigger happy’ in the past – fewer arrests could be a sign that HMRC is now exercising its powers of arrest more responsibly and in accordance with the law.”

He added: “Being arrested can have a seriously detrimental effect on a person’s life. They are likely to face difficulty obtaining a visa to travel to certain countries and it may well have employment implications, for example, if they work in financial services.

“It is to be hoped that the fall in HMRC arrests is as a consequence of HMRC having a better understanding of their power of arrest and when it is appropriate to exercise that power. Getting it wrong can be costly for HMRC.”

HMRC has over 1,500 officers with the powers to arrest a person, provided certain conditions have been satisfied.

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