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Introducing the HMRC – Support & Enforcement for UK’s Businesses and Individuals

Most of us will pay our taxes and will at some point have had some form of engagement with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in our working lives. Whilst we think we may know what the HMRC does, the wide scope of its organisational remit however may come as a surprise.

The HMRC however is a vast organisation with sweeping powers and here we will examine the roles, powers, and levels of support that it can offer you. In this article we will summarise not only the enforcement powers, role and remit of the organisation but also assess how it can help you during the pandemic.

Introducing the HMRC

The HMRC is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government  and is responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support and the administration of other regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage and the issuance of national insurance numbers. In short the HMRC is main point of financial interaction between the state and individuals & businesses.

HMRC was formed by the merger of the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in 2005 and is responsible for the administration and collection of direct personal and business taxes including:

  • Income Tax
  • Corporation Tax
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
  • Inheritance Tax (IHT)
  • Indirect taxes including Value Added Tax (VAT), excise duties and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), and environmental taxes such as Air Passenger Duty and the Climate Change Levy

The HMRC is also responsible for the collection of National Insurance Contributions (NIC), the distribution of Child Benefit and some other forms of state support including the Child Trust Fund, payments of Tax Credits, enforcement of the National Minimum Wage.

The department is also key in the administering of anti-money laundering registrations for Money Service Businesses (MSB), as well as the collection and publication of the trade-in-goods statistics.

Falling Foul of the Law – The Enforcement Powers of the HMRC

As well as collecting and distributing revenues, HMRC is also a law enforcement agency which has a strong cadre of Criminal Investigators responsible for investigating Serious Organised Fiscal Crime.

The powers of investigation and enforcement includes not only tax inspections bit also the investigation and prosecution of regulations including tobacco and alcohol. The department is responsible for the investigation of billions of pounds in lost revenues each year and their skills and resources include the full range of intrusive and covert surveillance.

HMRC criminal investigation officers have wide-ranging powers of arrest, entry, search and detention. The main power is to detain anyone who has committed, or whom the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect has committed, any offence under the Customs and Excise Acts as well as related fraud offences.

As a general rule the HMRC is helpful and honesty is key – get in in touch and they will likely try to avoid enforcement actions.

HMRC as a Tool of Support

Whilst HMRC also has the power to enforce, it also has a duty of care and support as directed by the government of the day. To this end, HMRC has been instrumental in the distribution of financial assistance during the pandemic to individuals, workers and employees throughout the country. Full information and contact details can be found below.

For more information and guidance during the COVID19 crisis, please visit HM Revenue & Customs – GOV.UK (

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