Research has found a 28 per cent increase in premises raids by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over the last year and a 53 per cent increase over the last five years.
Last year, HMRC carried out 761 property searches, compared with 593 the previous year and 499 five years ago. The increase comes against a background of heightened pressure from both politicians and the public to crack down on tax evasion.
HMRC possesses powers to raid premises with a search warrant granted by a judge or magistrate. This is likely to be seen by the Revenue as a crucial means for gathering evidence in some of the most complex tax evasion cases.
Commenting on the rise in such raids in recent years, an HMRC spokesperson has said: “HMRC prosecutions have increased year-on-year since 2010, with 1,135 individuals charged with criminal offences last year alone.
“We take firm action against the small minority who break the law by not paying their tax.
“We have a range of criminal and civil powers we use to tackle tax fraud of all types and do not hesitate to do so where necessary and proportionate.”