Tax evading Scottish landlords come under the spotlight

Following the success of its earlier tax evasion taskforces into restaurants and scrap metal firms, HMRC has announced that a further 30 investigative teams will be formed in 2012/13.

Although the Revenue has not yet confirmed all of the trades it will be targeting, accountants should be aware that clothing retailers, the motor trade and market stallholders will all come under the spotlight. By targeting specific groups, HMRC hopes to boost the Treasury coffers by around £7 billion a year by 2014-15.

Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said recently that landlords in Scotland who do not pay income tax on their residential properties will be the focus of one of the taskforces. He explained that evading tax was not fair on honest taxpayers and the Revenue will come down hard on rule breakers.

He warned deliberate tax evaders that HMRC will track them down and guilty parties can expect a hefty fine and in severe cases, criminal prosecution.

Neil Whyte, a tax accountant at PKF, said this is another sign that the Revenue is trying to reach more areas of society where tax evasion has been rife in the past.

Landlords may have believed that the taxman would find it hard to track down their rental income but HMRC is probably working very closely with the land registry. It will be particularly interested in people who own a lot of properties and those who have recently sold properties. Landlords in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, where there has been a large increase in buy to let, are likely to be top of the list, he added.

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