HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC's) campaigns provide opportunities for people to voluntarily put their tax affairs in order. They do this by identifying a group to target and gathering information and intelligence that can be used to encourage and influence that group to come forward. Once a campaign closes, HMRC then uses that same information and intelligence to follow up with action that can include criminal investigations, aimed at those who choose not to pay what they owe.
Campaigns launched so far have produced yield of £547 million from voluntary disclosures, and nearly £140 million from non compliance follow up from a large numbers of civil interventions, including over 20,000 completed investigations. There are also 13 criminal investigations underway with five convictions already secured.
This guide explains which campaigns are due to start and includes links to more information on current campaigns. It also reports progress and results from campaigns that have now closed.
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The Property Sales campaign is currently 'live'.
HMRC aims to let you know as soon as possible about forthcoming campaigns but sometimes needs to alter plans to respond to changing risks. In light of the learning from campaigns over the last 12 months HMRC has postponed the launch of the Trades Sweep Up campaign previously signalled to begin in December 2012. If you intended to make a disclosure under the Trades Sweep Up Campaign you should contact the Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline.
There are a number of campaigns where both the notification and disclosure periods have now closed. If you have unpaid tax that you think could have been reported and paid to HMRC under one of these campaigns, please call the Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline.
The voluntary disclosure opportunity offered as part of the Direct Selling campaign closed on the 28 February 2013. The identification of cases suitable for compliance checks and criminal investigation is ongoing.
It is now too late to make a disclosure under the Direct Selling campaign but you can still disclose unpaid tax as it will be beneficial for you to tell HMRC and any penalty you pay may be lower than if HMRC comes to you first.
The voluntary opportunity offered as part of the VAT Outstanding Returns campaign closed on the 28 February 2013. The identification of cases suitable for compliance checks and criminal investigation is ongoing.
It is now too late to come forward under the VAT Outstanding Returns campaign but you should still submit your VAT Return as soon as possible. It is better for you to come to HMRC before they come to you
The Tax Return Initiative voluntary disclosure opportunity closed on 2 October 2012. It raised more than £30 million from 3270 notifications that led to 5567 late returns being submitted.
HMRC is now taking follow up steps against those that chose not to take part. This includes issuing estimates of the amount of tax owed and enforcing payment through court action or by using a debt collection agency. Higher penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax owed will follow and HMRC are also reviewing some cases for criminal investigation and possible prosecution.
If HMRC sent you a Self Assessment tax return or notice to complete a tax return for 2009-10 or earlier and you have not yet taken any action it will still be beneficial for you to submit your completed tax returns and pay what you owe before HMRC comes to you as the penalty may be lower.
The voluntary disclosure opportunity offered as part of the e-marketplaces campaign (e-MDF) closed in September 2012. The campaign raised more than £650,000 from 702 notifications that led to over 395 disclosures.
HMRC is using the data gathered to support the campaign to identify those who should have come forward but chose not to. As at 30 November 2012, 56 completed investigations have recovered more than £670,000. The identification of cases suitable for checking by HMRC and for criminal investigation is ongoing.
If you have not previously notified under e-MDF you can still tell HMRC about your income by phoning the Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline. If you come forward and tell HMRC about the outstanding tax, you are likely to pay a lower penalty than would be the case if HMRC comes to you first.
This campaign voluntary disclosure opportunity closed on 31 March 2012. It raised more than £780,000 from 646 notifications that led to over 400 disclosures. The Tax Catch Up Plan was for those who provide private tuition, instruction and coaching, either as a main or a secondary income - which they choose not to tell HMRC about.
The campaign covered people providing private lessons, regardless of whether they have a teaching qualification, and could include, for example, fitness, dance or lifestyle coaches through to national curriculum subject tutors and others.
The identification of cases suitable for checking by HMRC and for criminal investigation is ongoing.
People who haven't made a notification under the campaign but still wish to voluntarily disclose income on which tax is owing should call the Tax Catch Up Plan Helpline on Tel 0845 601 5041.
The VAT Initiative campaign, which closed on 31 December 2011, focused on individuals and businesses operating at or above the VAT threshold who had not registered for VAT.
HMRC wrote to over 40,000 businesses to highlight the VAT Initiative and 848 businesses notified HMRC that they should previously have registered for VAT and wished to take part in the campaign. At 30 November 2012, 647 businesses who had registered for VAT through the initiative, have submitted their first VAT Return resulting in revenue of over £13.5 million. Help provided by HMRC to individuals and businesses coming forward has also resulted in VAT repayments being made HMRC continue to work with businesses that came forward to help them reach this stage and get their affairs in order.
HMRC continues to follow up on those businesses where the information held suggests that the VAT turnover threshold has been exceeded and the first enquiry cases have been opened in summer 2012. This action could lead to the compulsory registration of businesses and a possible failure to notify penalty of up to 100 per cent of the VAT due.
The Electricians Tax Safe Plan (ETSP) voluntary disclosure opportunity closed in August 2012. It raised more than £2.2 million from 526 notifications that led to 263 disclosures. The identification of cases suitable for compliance checks and criminal investigation is ongoing.
It is now too late to make a disclosure under ETSP but you can still disclose unpaid tax as it will be beneficial for you to tell HMRC as the penalty you will pay will be lower than it would be if HMRC comes to you first.
The Plumbers' Tax Safe Plan (PTSP) voluntary disclosure opportunity closed in August 2011. It raised more than £4 million from 638 notifications that led to over 447 disclosures.
Information from a variety of sources that was gathered during the PTSP campaign has led to nearly a thousand civil investigation cases being opened. Completed cases have, at 30 November 2012, resulted in the recovery of a further £2.4 million in unpaid tax. The information has also allowed HMRC to identify a number of individuals where criminal investigation is the most appropriate course of action.
As at 30 November 2012, four plumbers have been convicted with more to follow.
The Medics Tax Health Plan (THP) campaign, which closed in June 2010, raised more than £10 million from 2160 notifications that led to over 1,500 disclosures. The disclosures included one individual payment of over £1 million by a doctor and one of over £300,000 by a dentist.
The information gathered from THP disclosures and other sources, including payments made by insurance companies, has allowed HMRC to identify and target those they believe should have used the THP campaign to make a disclosure but chose not to. To date this has meant more than 1000 civil investigations have been started.
HMRC is using the information to ask a number of people directly whether they should make a disclosure and has been clear about potential action HMRC can take. Following this, many have quickly decided voluntary cooperation is preferable.
To 30 November 2012 HMRC follow up action, targeted at those who should have come forward, has recovered a further £9.7 million in unpaid tax. There has been one conviction of a medic during the life of the Campaign and four criminal investigations are currently underway. If you are a doctor or dentist, although the terms offered by the THP are no longer available you can still volunteer now to cooperate with HMRC. It is better to come forward before HMRC opens an enquiry.
If you would like further advice, please call the Tax Health Plan Support Line on Tel 0845 600 4508 and quote THP-LCOC.
The 2009 New Disclosure Facility (NDO) was designed to provide one final opportunity for UK based individuals and businesses, with unpaid tax linked to an offshore account or asset, to make a disclosure and put their affairs in order.
It raised £85 million from 5,500 disclosures including 15 individual payments over £500,000 four of which were in excess of £1 million. NDO was open to those with any offshore interest, assets or accounts.
Data from 146 financial institutions was provided following successful application to Tax Tribunal in August 2009 and HMRC has used this and other information to open thousands of enquiries that have recovered a further £23.4 million in unpaid tax since the NDO closed.
The Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF) was the first HMRC campaign and ran between April and November 2007.
The ODF was based on data obtained from five major UK financial institutions. Like NDO, it gave people or businesses with unpaid tax connected to an offshore account or asset an opportunity to make a full disclosure of liabilities and to pay duties, interest and penalties due.
ODF raised £400 million. The campaign was the first of its kind and provided information and understanding of the way offshore accounts and assets were used that was carried into the first full Offshore Campaign (the NDO) covering all institutions offering offshore facilities to UK based entities.
After the ODF HMRC made follow up enquiries, mainly based on data gathered following a successful application for notices on five major UK financial institutions.
To date follow up activity for the ODF has recovered over £103 million in unpaid tax. Enquiries that are still open will be pursued to conclusion.