The taxman gets even tougher

New figures have revealed that HM Revenue and Customs is disputing more self-assessment forms than ever before – and collecting a rising amount of cash from personal tax investigations.

According to the new figures, reported in The Times newspaper, the amount of money netted from personal tax investigations rose from £856m to £1.4bn last year – an increase of 64 per cent.

The newspaper also reported there was an increasing threat of court actions and in the last financial year it won 83 per cent of the 1,200 tax cases held in court.

It is a fast growing revenue stream for the taxman, with the threat of court action and an increasing use of technology helping drive the rise in revenue, according to experts.

There is no doubt HMRC is making sure everyone hears about its court successes, and there is a view that the publicity discourages taxpayers from contesting disputed claims.

The high-profile cases brought by HMRC continue to make the headlines. Just this month it issued a news release, following a Supreme Court ruling against users of a failed film partnership scheme.

In its release the HMRC says the ruling will potentially protect well over £1billion for the UK. Its director general for customer strategy and tax design, Jim Harra, described it as “another great success.”

Aside from the big, headline making cases, the upward trend in personal tax investigations is not likely to end any time soon.

And HMRC is also continuing to harness the latest technology to trawl through data in its hunt for underpaid tax.

Any taxpayer can be targeted by HMRC to check that they are paying the right amount of tax, answering all its questions takes time and the enquiries often drag on for months and sometimes take years to conclude.

It can cost thousands of pounds to defend you, whatever the end result. It is as important as it has ever been for you to protect against these costs.

Tax Enquiry Fee Protection Insurance schemes, like the one operated by WNJ, can give people piece of mind and help protect them.

Professional fees for defending clients in tax enquiries can be claimed under this insurance policy.

Clients in the scheme are also able to obtain helpful advice about the complex areas of Health and Safety and Employment Law.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article or have any tax queries or concerns please contact me on 01772 430000


I manage the affairs of a portfolio of clients in a wide range of industries. In managing the audit and accounts department of WNJ, I always keep abreast of the latest technical information and legislative changes. Clients receive advice based on commercial awareness not simply historical reporting. Audit and assurance services for large range of clients, including charitable companies and pension schemes, Internal audit and systems reviews, Assisting and development of business start-ups.