HMRC have announced that they are focusing their attention on VAT rule breakers. They will be discussing the proposal with interested parties before the initiative is launched in the summer, however the intention is for the campaign to focus on individuals and businesses who are trading above the VAT threshold but who have not yet registered for VAT. The VAT threshold is currently £73,000 turnover on a rolling annual basis. In previous years it was: 2006/07 – £61,000; 2007/08 – £64,000; 2008/09 - £67,000; 2009/10 - £68,000; 2010/11 - £70,000.

This is part of a series of campaigns being conducted by HMRC, each aimed at reducing the tax gap by focusing on areas where a significant underpayment has been identified. The department states that it will provide “simple, straightforward opportunities for customers to put their records in order on the best possible terms, followed immediately by activity focused on the non-compliant who choose not to take up the opportunity.”

Previous campaigns have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals and people working in the plumbing industry. For each HMRC has used new technology and legislation to gather and analyse data, from internal and external sources, to identify people who should come forward. This has provided thousands more investigations, now being worked through, including a number of criminal investigations.