HMRC ‘premises raids’ have risen by more than half in five years

The number of ‘property raids’ or ‘premises raids’ undertaken by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as part of criminal investigations into tax evasion have risen by more than half in the last five years, according to new reports.

Data has revealed that, year-on-year, the number of premises raided by HMRC has risen by 28 per cent – and that as many as 761 properties have been raided by the tax authority in the past 12 months.

In the last five years, the number of raids has risen by 53 per cent.

Statistics have further suggested that the upward trend does not appear to be slowing.

In the wake of the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks scandals, and ongoing media reports demonising the tax affairs of large companies and corporations, HMRC is under ongoing pressure to increase the number of successful prosecutions for tax evasion.

During a property or premises raid, HMRC has the power to seize personal documents, emails and electronic files from individuals to be used as evidence. Individuals themselves can also be searched if deemed necessary.

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.”