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UK Targets Affluent Taxpayers

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has officially confirmed plans to recruit 100 extra inspectors to concentrate on the tax affairs of those classed as affluent. The move had previously been announced by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in September.

The new inspectors will be attached to HMRC's Affluent Compliance Team, which was set up in October 2011 with a view to raising an extra GBP586m (USD938m) by the end of 2015. According to HMRC, the team currently has 200 staff in six locations across the UK, and its remit will now be expanded from taxpayers with an annual income of more than GBP150,000 and wealth of between GBP2.5m and GBP20m, to include those with wealth ranging from between GBP1m and GBP2.5m.

The team focuses in particular on wealthy individuals who habitually use avoidance schemes; have a low effective rate of tax across their total income; have bank accounts in Switzerland and appear to be understating their tax liability; fail to file their Self Assessment return on time; avoid or evade Stamp Duty on property purchases; or who have UK and offshore property portfolios.

According to Exchequer Secretary David Gauke: 'HMRC set up the new Affluent Teams from some of the GBP917m we made available in 2010. The team has made a great start by bringing in GBP75m in additional tax that would otherwise have been lost to the country.'

The team's director, Roger Atkinson, has explained that the expansion has been made possible by an additional GBP5m investment made in September 2012, and that the new team would be fully operational by April. He added that recruitment would be both internal and external: 'We want to recruit people with external experience and appropriate qualifications for inspector and lead case director roles. We want people with recent commercial and corporate experience in personal tax to help us understand our customer base. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront, tackling those who do not pay the right tax.'

Adverts for the new positions will appear at the end of January.

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