In September 2010 the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, pledged to make funding available to HMRC for a five-fold in criminal prosecutions for tax evasion.
We predicted that there would prove to have been a dramatic jump in the number of HMRC searches under PACE to feed the dramatic rise in prosecutions- and HMRC's response our latest Freedom of Information Act request appears to bear that out.
We asked HMRC to disclose to us the number of search warrants executed in each of the last four tax years under section 8 (Magistrates' warrants) or section 9 (Judges' warrants for material held under a duty of confidentiality e.g. by accountants) of PACE in England & Wales (PACE does not apply in Northern Ireland or Scotland).
There is a dramatic leap between 2009/10 and 2010/11 (428 and 498 respectively) and 2011/12 and 2012/13 (731 and 798 respectively). Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2013/14 will be even higher.
What happens when the search warrant is served upon you or your company? Last year we published a briefing note providing a short practical guide to dealing with searches of premises under warrant by HMRC which can be found here.