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Property Raids by U.K. Tax Agency Soar in Clampdown on Evasion

U.K. tax authorities raided nearly 19 percent more premises in the last year as a number of high-profile global tax cases sparked a crackdown on evasion.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs carried out 593 property raids in the year through March, up from 500 in 2013-14, according to data compiled by law firm Pinsent Masons LLP. The figure is triple the number conducted five years ago.

In 2010, the U.K. government allocated 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion) to the tax watchdog for the next four years as part of a campaign to rein in tax dodging. HMRC was also given 320 additional staff and its prosecution powers were extended through a merger with the Crown Prosecution Service.

The agency has been involved in a number of high-profile international cases in the last year including an investigation into HSBC Holdings Plc’s handling of Swiss accounts.

“An increase in the number of raids conducted and custodial sentences meted out for tax evasion reflect the fact that HMRC is now casting its net wider,” said Paul Noble, tax director at Pinsent Masons. “It is targeting a broad range of taxpayers and refusing to let those suspected of more minor offenses slip through the cracks.”

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