In the Budget 2021, the chancellor announced that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will establish a taskforce to investigate fraudulent use of government schemes set up to protect individuals and businesses against the economic impact of COVID-19 (eg, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme). In addition, the government will raise awareness of enforcement action in order to deter fraud and will significantly strengthen law enforcement for bounce back loans.
The government and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs have been pledging to clamp down on enablers and promoters of aggressive tax avoidance strategies for years. In recent times, it has been hard to keep up with the plethora of measures and legislation brought in to stop these unscrupulous advisers. In August 2020 further proposals and legislation which forms part of the draft Finance Bill 2019-21 were released for consultation.
The Serious Fraud Office's guidance on self-reporting suggests that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is now turning to companies themselves to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. The guidance states that prosecutors will assess whether a self-reporting corporate has been genuinely proactive. Critical to such an assessment is whether the corporate has provided sufficient information about its operations, including making witnesses available and disclosing the details of any internal investigations.