By Marcus Leach

VAT rule-breakers have until 30 September to register to pay what they owe under an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) campaign.

The new campaign focuses on individuals and businesses trading above the VAT registration threshold — a turnover of £73,000 — but who have not registered.

Target sectors include: construction, business services, hair and beauty, hotels and catering, retail distribution, recreational services, motor vehicle distribution and repair, sanitary and domestic services, agriculture and horticulture, property and road haulage.

Under the terms of the VAT Initiative, those who have not registered to pay VAT can come forward any time up to 30 September to tell HMRC that they want to take part. If they make a full disclosure, most will face a low penalty rate of 10 per cent on VAT that has been paid late.

After 30 September, using information pulled together from different sources, HMRC will investigate those who have failed to come forward. Substantial penalties and even criminal prosecution could follow.

“Most people do register for, and pay, the correct amount of VAT. This isn’t about honest taxpayers, who have nothing to fear from any of our campaigns," Mike Wells, HMRC's Director of Risk and Intelligence, said.

“But we are committed to ensuring tax is paid so that the maximum is available for public services used by everyone.

“I therefore urge people who have not registered their businesses for VAT to get in touch with HMRC and get their tax affairs in order simply, and on the best terms available.”

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