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HMRC plans measures to clamp down on black economy

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HMRC has launched a series of consultations on proposals to clamp down on the black economy, which include new sanctions for companies.

The proposals include extending HMRC’s data gathering powers, forcing more business to register for tax purposes in order to access business services and licenses, and new penalties for compliance failings.

HMRC wants to extend its bulk data-gathering powers to include customer data held by money service businesses (MSBs to help it identify non-compliant customers trading in the hidden economy.

It is also consulting on introducing conditionality, whereby access to some business services or licences should be dependent on businesses being registered for tax. Conditionality could help to make it as easy as possible to register for tax, and as difficult as possible for non-compliant businesses to evade their responsibilities.

The taxman is also looking at the potential for new penalties and sanctions to tackle those operating in the hidden economy, including those who have already been penalised for non-compliance, but have not changed their behaviour.

This consultation proposes some options for new sanctions, and seeks views on how those might be designed fairly and effectively to deter hidden economy activity.

The consultation looks at several ways it could introduce an escalating penalty regime and also considers new approaches to penalties for inaccurate returns, and for employers who fail to make PAYE returns.

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