13:20 PM, 17th November 2010, About 13 years ago
Landlords are in the firing line of a new HM Revenue and Customs charge to collect unpaid tax.
HMRC is looking at 20 million cases dating back to 2004 where the taxman suspects tax is owed.
Special task forces to tackle problems in specific sectors are working through the cases – for instance the recent ‘amnesties’ for savers with cash in offshore accounts and high-earning doctors.
HMRC has a special unit tasked with tracking down unpaid tax on rent and capital gains from property investors.
The unit is based in Northampton and is trawling through records from letting agents, electoral rolls, the Land Registry and lists of council housing benefit claimants to cross-reference data to identify property owners who have not declared income on their tax returns.
The Money Centre’s tax partner Yardleystar confirms they are handling several inquiries from HMRC’s landlord task force.
“Lots of landlords who thought they were safe from the taxman are getting a nasty surprise in the post,” Said Steve Sims, of Yardleystar.
“One client had let and sold a house in 2007 and received a demand for unpaid capital gains tax and letting income going back to 1999. Other inquiries concern letting properties dating back to the late Nineties.”
Taxpayers should not ignore the issue – even if they think the taxman doesn’t know about their underpayments.
Tax inquiries have no retrospective time limit and some inspectors are delving back 20 years.
“All the time, the tax meter is ticking and adding interest and penalties to the amount owed. Leaving it just makes the job more difficult to sort out and leads to a bigger tax bill,” said Steve.
HMRC has a backlog of 17.9 million tax cases. To help, the government has agreed to pump £900 million in to the organisation to fund a drive to get back lost tax.
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