Taskforces tackling fraudulent VAT repayments in the Birmingham, Coventry, Stoke and Wolverhampton area, and in the Nottingham area have been launched today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The taskforce is expected to recover nearly £7m across the Midlands.

Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.

Over £22m has been recovered as a result of VAT Repayments taskforces throughout the UK since 2012. Taskforces expect to bring in over £100m during 2014 to 2015.

Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, said: “HMRC taskforces are deployed in sectors and areas where we’ve detected a high risk of tax evasion. People being targeted by our taskforces have no intention of playing by the rules and could end up facing a heavy fine or even a criminal conviction.

“In a previous VAT taskforce a trader who claimed to be exporting vehicles and second-hand white goods to Africa was found to have fraudulently reclaimed over £500,000 of input tax. He was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment and was disqualified from being a company director for six years. If you haven’t declared all of your income, we will find you and investigate.”

People who know someone who is evading their taxes can tell HMRC by calling the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788887.