The specialist taskforce was set up earlier this year to undertake ‘intensive bursts of compliance activity’ into 531 restaurants across the UK where evidence suggested a risk of tax evasion. The task force investigated 222 restaurants from Scotland.
Four business and domestic premises were visited in Edinburgh on Monday. The two unnamed men were detained, interviewed and released while investigations are on-going.
“These raids and detention of people suspected of not declaring income from the work they do - are part of co-ordinated activity targeting the restaurant trade in Scotland,” Mike Wells, HMRC's director of risk and intelligence, told BigHospitality.
What does this mean for the restaurant industry?
“The taskforces will come down hard on restaurants that have deliberately chosen to break the rules and evade the taxes they should be paying,” added Wells. “Honest businesses have absolutely nothing to worry about, however, if you deliberately seek to evade tax, HMRC can and will track you down. You will then face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”
Will the two unnamed restaurants be closed?
"It will depend upon our investigation into the books and records of each business, which is unquantifiable at the present time and unlikely to be until well into next year. Ultimately, the plan would be to put a report to the Procurator Fiscal for court action.”
Last month, BigHospitality reported that 22 restaurants in the UK are currently being considered for criminal prosecution following this crackdown on tax dodgers.
HMRC alert to VAT-registered businesses
HMRC has issued an alert to VAT-registered businesses across the UK about important changes that come into effect this spring. From 1 April 2012, all VAT-registered businesses must send their VAT returns online and pay their VAT electronically.
Currently, only newly-registered businesses, and those with turnovers of more than £100,000, have to file and pay their VAT online. But the new rules will cover VAT returns filed for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2012.
Affected businesses will also need to set up their preferred electronic payment method. Further help and advice is available from HMRC’s website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat.