Andrew Parsons/PA Wire
An HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) crackdown has seen warning letters sent out to 2,500 doctors and dentists who are being targeted as probable tax dodgers. The letters will tell them they must pay within 21 days or face possible prosecution.
These threats are part of HMRC's efforts to recover unpaid tax owed by various professions and trades.
As well as doctors and dentists, HMRC has already cracked down on the tax affairs of restaurant owners and their staff, plumbers, private tutors and scrap metal dealers. They are also looking at people with money hidden in offshore accounts. They say they will be targeting those selling on internet marketplaces, and electricians early next year.
HMRC added to its list of potential tax-avoiders last month focusing on the super-rich with homes abroad, and commodity traders. The department said that the "tax-gap" caused by evasion has fallen and their crackdowns are a success.
Warning for doctors
Gary Ashford of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) warned doctors and dentists not to ignore the Revenue's latest letters. "HMRC will either 'make a determination', which would result in the taxpayer incurring significant additional charges, or refer the case to their criminal investigations department with a view to prosecution," he said.
"They have offered the carrot of a relatively low penalty rate for doctors to get their affairs in order and 1,500 health professionals took it up, bringing in £10m for the Exchequer. Now they are wielding the stick at those who have not come forward," he said.
Mr Ashford explained that HMRC had been gathering information from employers of doctors and dentists, such as locum agencies, drug companies and medical insurance firms. "What we are now seeing is HMRC starting to use that information, to identify who has not notified HMRC of all their tax liabilities," Mr Ashford pointed out.
The recent campaign to crack down on plumbers has seen five people arrested and a further 600 under civil investigation. Payments totalling over £94,000 have been made and a further £234,000 has been offered.