HMRC have today announced a special task force are to investigate London restaurants over the coming weeks in an attempt to crackdown on tax avoidance.
The specialist teams will undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations across the UK, starting with restaurants in London.
Justin Randall, of London Accountants Jeffreys Henry LLP, states “Restaurants and other cash based businesses such as bars and small hotels should take HMRC’s latest initiative very seriously.”
“HMRC have the powers to carry out spot checks to look for PAYE, VAT and corporation tax irregularities as well as the personal tax affairs of restaurant owners and staff”
“Inspectors are likely to want to see cheque stubs, till rolls, sales and takings record.”
“Restaurant owners must take steps to ensure their bookkeeping and accounting records are in order and up to date, including a dedicated troncmaster.”
Mike Eland, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said “If you deliberately seek to evade tax HMRC can and will track you down, and you’ll face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”
Restaurants have long been identified as a high risk sector by HMRC. Back in 2005, HMRC launched ‘Operation Gourmet’ to win back millions of pounds in arrears of national insurance contributions from restaurants who have incorrectly distributed their tronc – the tip pool for staff.