Tag: hmrc

Essex businessman pretended to flog memory

imgid83882825-jpg-galleryAn Essex bloke has been jailed for six years by Chelmsford Crown Court for claiming back sales tax on computer memory sold overseas.

Robert Waterman had rather a good lifestyle of expensive houses, luxury cars and a Marbella holiday home using a scam in which he pretended to trade memory sticks with a business in Dubai.

He trousered £4,757,858 in VAT repayments between April 2013 and March 2015 by supposedly exporting to the Middle East through his company Asset Innovations UK.

He was sending empty parcels to a PO Box address and then reclaiming the VAT as the devices were being exported outside of the EU, the tax authorities said.

According to the taxman , Waterman used all of the proceeds from his fraud to purchase a £1.15 million house with no mortgage, drive a Range Rover Sport and fund a holiday home in Marbella, Spain. He also bought a £310,000 property in Ilford.

The Tax man has obtained a restraining order worth £4 million on his assets, including houses and cash in bank accounts.

At an earlier hearing Waterman pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue, money laundering, furnishing false documents with the intent to deceive in relation to fraudulent VAT returns, operating a company while a banned director and absconding while on bail.

HMRC customer service is “abysmal” says report

hmrchqHM Revenue and Customs needs to “sharpen up” its act when it comes to the way it handles calls, a parliament committee has said.

In its report, the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) said the organisation’s treatment of call handling and responses to letters was “abysmal” and “disgraceful”.

It pointed out that in 2011-12, 20 million phone calls were not answered racking up a total of  £136 million wasted by callers who were waiting to speak to an adviser.

Against its target of responding to 80 percent of letters within 15 days, the department managed to reply to just 66 percent, PAC said, adding this was an “abysmal record.”

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:  “HMRC’s ‘customers’ have no choice over whether or not they deal with the department. It is therefore disgraceful to subject them to unacceptable levels of service when they try to contact the department by phone or letter.”

However, she pointed out the organisation was aiming to change its attitude with officials “beginning to realise that “good customer service lies at the heart of any strategy.”

She added that it was also good news for those trying to phone the department as they would no longer be forced to use the more expensive 0845 numbers.

Other planned changes include the resolution of more queries first time and a call-back service where this is not possible.

Last week the department announced it would  cut a third of its customer-facing staff as well as closing all of its 281 enquiry centres in 2014. It said at the time, that instead of visiting these customers had to contact the phone line or go online to get their tax query answered.

Advisers may then decide that the issue should be discussed face-to-face at the caller’s home or elsewhere. The HMRC said that this could shave  £13 million a year off its bills.

However, PAC pointed out that the HMRC now faced more calls but had fewer staff.

It said that as a result of these changes the HMRC’s new target of answering 80 percent of calls within five minutes was “woefully inadequate and unambitious.”

Hodge said the department should instead set a more demanding target in the short term and a long-term target that is much closer to the industry standard of answering 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds.

“Just how the department is going to improve standards of customer service, given the prospect of its having fewer staff and receiving a higher volume of calls, is open to question. HMRC plans to cut the number of customer-facing staff by a third by 2015. At the same time, the stresses associated with introducing the Real Time Information System, Universal Credit and changes to child benefit are likely to drive up the number of phone calls to the department,” Hodge pointed out.

“Since our hearing it has also been announced that HMRC is to close all of its 281 enquiry centres which give face-to-face advice to customers. This will undoubtedly put even more pressure on phonelines.

HMRC spent approximately £900 million on customer service in 2011-12, around a quarter of its £3.7 billion total expenditure. It received 79 million phone calls and 25 million items of post in the year.

People contact HMRC because they want to get their tax right and HMRC is obliged to make sure they get a good service.

However, in recent years the standard of HMRC’s customer service has been described by PAC as “unacceptable.”

HMRC to introduce massive PAYE changes this April

hmrchqIn just under a month, HMRC will demand all employers, and by extension, all employees will have to move to a new PAYE system – Real Time Information.

In April, the RTI will immediately become effective. For such a considerable change in employment law, the changes have not had much visibility. According to the HMRC website, from 6 April employers must report PAYE information to MRC in real time – in effect meaning employers, accountants, bookkepers or a payroll bureau will have to submit data to HMRC each time an employee is paid, when they are paid. Using a payroll system, they will have to send the information electronically as part of the routine payment process.

The website boldly asks if you are ready for RTI. A survey late last year from the Federation for Small Business revealed that as many as a quarter were not, at the time, prepared at all. Asking 1,700 small firms, 25 percent had not heard of the RTI programme, and just 16 percent of those asked were fully aware of all the details.

Critics have slammed the move as purely political, as the changes are propping up the payments of Universal Credits. HRMC claims that it is aiming to make it more simple to report new starters and leavers, plus making the entire payroll process more simple. At the time of the FSB’s survey, in October 2012, most respondents were not confident that RTI will help achieve those aims. Over sixty percent of small businesses it contacted had not had any correspondence from HMRC.

With just under a month to go for businesses to understand the changes, one SMB told ChannelEye that RTI is a disaster in waiting.

“This year is going to be a disaster,” ChannelEye heard. With barely any visibility to such a massive and immediate change, there are bound to be teething problems if not all out chaos for small business. “Just stand back and watch it all go pear-shaped,” our source said.

A spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses said, speaking with ChannelEye: “HMRC has completed a pilot programme and has written to small businesses but we still believe that some businesses won’t know the extent of the changes they will have to make.

“It is going to be a huge learning curve and possibly mean additional costs for small firms if they have to buy new software or use their accountant for longer,” the spokesperson said. “All small firms will have to report in their payroll and we think that the smallest of firms will need to have much more education than the largest of firms.

“HMRC should use the results of the pilot programme to put clear guidelines and a clear education plan for small firms together,” the spokesperson said. “We are pleased that HMRC has said that they won’t implement fines in the first 12 months of the scheme, but they must educate firms within that time if mistakes are made.”

CPU scammer jailed for 10 more years

JasbinderA criminal who was running a multi million pound scam on the back of mobile phone and CPU sales has received a further 10 years in prison for failing to pay a £14 million confiscation order, HMRC has said.

In a statement, HMRC reported Jasbinder Bedesha was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2008 for his role in a missing trader VAT fraud. Mobile phones and CPUs would be imported mostly from Dubai, via Europe, into the UK, and then be sold on through other companies – but with VAT added. Once they were sold on several times they would be exported back to Europe, so the conspiracy could then claim back VAT credit on the purchase of goods. This, of course, was never paid to begin with.

Cash from the scam was laundered through companies in Dubai and Spain before dividing the profits.

Assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, Dave Cowie, said in a statement the further ten years shows revenue and customs’ muscle, that it will “pursue every avenue to return the proceeds of crime to the nation or defendants will face severe consequences”.

He said HMRC will continue its investigations to find the missing cash.

This was a planned and “ruthless” attack, Cowie said, to steal “vast amounts of public money”.

“They enjoyed extravagant lifestyles, exclusive homes, performance cars and designer jewellery,” Cowie said, “ultimately at the expense of law abiding tax payers”.


HMRC moves to clamp down on fat cats

FAT CATHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has decided to take its crusade to clamp down on affluent tax dodgers one step further.

The tax man has announced that it will be ramping up its investigations, hiring an extra 100 inspectors to its Affluent Compliance Team.

Created in 2010, as a result of £917 million in funding – presumably from tax payers’ cash- this team already has 200 eagle eyed spies and does what it says on the tin – targets wealthy Britons living in the UK who may be concealing money from the Revenue.

The HMRC said that it was now adding to its team as a result of a £5 million investment in September last year.

To be in with a chance of gaining a position in the team, the HMRC says applicants must have external experience and appropriate qualifications for inspector and lead case director roles.

With the announcement the watchdog has also said it’s expanding its search, targeting those who are sitting on a fortune of £1 million to £20 million, from the previous start figure of £2.5 million.

Fat cats with annual earnings of more than £150,000 are also being scrutinised.

Overall the amount of people that fall into these categories make up around 300,000 of the British population, HMRC claimed.

Since the unit opened the HMRC said it’s been successful in raking in the cash, claiming that by the end of December 2012 the department had brought in an extra £75 million in tax, which was “well ahead of expectations”.

It now has set itself a target of £586 million by the end of 2015.