In 2009, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) set up a specialist unit dedicated to collecting tax from ‘high net worth individuals’. HMRC considered there to be around 6,500 such individuals in 2015–16, about one in every 5,000 taxpayers. These are people who have wealth of more than £20 million. They paid more than £4.3 billion in tax in 2014–15. HMRC assigns a “customer relationship manager” to each high net worth individual, who is a named contact in the department responsible for administering their tax affairs. Tax authorities focus on high net worth individuals because: they pay significant amounts of tax; they often have complex tax affairs; and they have more opportunity to engage in tax planning than the average taxpayer. In addition to the tax that is voluntarily declared by high net worth individuals, HMRC estimates that, in 2015–16, its specialist unit raised a further £416 million from them, compared with £200 million in 2011–12. In 2016, HMRC reduced to £10 million the threshold above which it will consider someone to be a high net worth individual and therefore subject to the attentions of its specialist unit. In addition to collecting tax, HMRC has a role in identifying tax rules that are not working as Parliament intended and bringing these to the attention of HM Treasury.
24 January 2017