By Max Clarke

Plumbers have found themselves the centre of HM Revenue & Customs’ latest tax clampdown.

Five plumbers have been arrested so far, with a further 600 under civil investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for failing to pay the right amount of tax.

“These arrests are just the start,” said HMRC’s Risk and Intelligence Director Mike Wells. “HMRC is considering hundreds of further cases for criminal investigation in the plumbing and medical professions. Some people may have thought we were bluffing when we said we have information that we will use to prosecute tax evasion.”

This latest drive follows a series of similar crackdowns, aimed at fast food outlets, VAT dodgers, offshore traders and tutors.

George Bull, Tax expert at Baker Tilly discussed HMRC’s increasing activity, dubbing such schemes as the “latest in an ever-increasing stream of initiatives designed to close the tax gap”.

The arrests and investigations have taken place during a campaign targeting plumbers which invited them to put their tax affairs in order. Some of those involved owe up to £150,000.
“These raids and arrests of ‘ghosts’ - people who have not declared income from the work they do - are the culmination of months of work by HMRC,” commented HMRC’s Criminal Investigation unit assistant director, John Pontingl.
This is the start of co-ordinated action and more raids are expected to take place over the coming weeks across the UK, including Yorkshire, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Tyne & Wear, Midlands and South Wales.