HMRC uses new powers to clamp down on till fraud
In a targeted day of action, HMRC officers visited businesses across the country in an operation to tackle till fraud, arresting three people.
Till fraud occurs when businesses configure their Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) devices in a specific way that allows them to hide true sales and the resulting tax that is due.
And now businesses involved in making, supplying or promoting Electronic Sales Suppression (ESS) systems – which help users hide or reduce the value of till sales – face fines of up to £50,000 and criminal investigations. Users also face fines as HMRC increases efforts to target the tax evasion practice.
On 18 May 2022, 30 businesses were visited, including shops, takeaways and restaurants, across nine counties to tackle the fraud. A search warrant was executed by HMRC officers at three addresses and computers, digital devices and paperwork was seized.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Lucy Frazer, said: “The overwhelming majority of businesses are paying their taxes and rightly want to see HMRC stepping in where needed to ensure a level playing field for all.
“Tax crime does not stand still and neither do we – the new powers available to HMRC allow them to clamp down on ESS and help recover tax revenues to fund our vital public services.”
Marc Gill, HMRC’s Director of Individuals & Small Business Compliance, said: “Electronic Sales Suppression gives the appearance a business is trading legitimately, when in fact they’re really just stealing money from taxpayers.
“We encourage anyone using, supplying, making or promoting ESS to report via our disclosure facility. Making a disclosure is not only the right thing to do it could also lead to a reduction in financial penalties.”
As part of investigations into ESS, HMRC can also recover tax evaded and launch investigations that could result in criminal convictions.
• Two men and a woman were arrested in Nottinghamshire as part of the criminal investigation into the alleged supply of ESS software. The men, aged 43 and 58, were arrested along with a 56-year-old woman on suspicion of fraud offences and cheating the revenue.