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Taxman’s “mass affluent” crackdown increases yield by 60pc

When it comes to taxpayers that HM Revenue & Customs refer to as the “mass affluent,” a new crackdown has led to a 60 per cent increase in yield for the taxman.

Apparently HMRC has a specific division it calls the Affluent Unit. It keeps track of anyone who makes more than £150,000 a year or who has more than £1 million in wealth – and in 2014 it raked in £137.2 million in tax payments from these individuals. Not only that but this was a serious increase from the Affluent Unit’s 2013 take, which was just £85.7 million.

Around half a million Brits fall into this category, according to official figures. Of course, this isn’t the only category – there’s also  High Net Worth team that keeps tabs on the filthy rich, and there has already been criticism that both teams should be working harder to squeeze Brits who can afford to weather the financial pressure better than contractors or other small-scale self-employed that have been raked over the coals time and again by overly aggressive IR35 governance.

Meanwhile, Treasury minister David Gauke has been singing the Affluent Unit’s praises, claiming the 60 per cent jump in tax collected is a major success story. He says that the Treasury is determined to provide the tax authority with the tools to go after anyone and everyone who’s trying to get away with tax avoidance or tax evasion. Meanwhile, critics point out that there’s an official tax gap of £35 billion right now, making the extra £50 million or so collected in 2014 by the Affluent Unit more or less irrelevant.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s a good start to begin getting that pound of flesh from the nation’s wealthiest residents. It’s obviously not going to be enough right now to close that nasty tax gap but Rome wasn’t built – or burnt – in a day, so I see it as an important first step towards a more robust tax system that leaves lower income earners alone instead of taking the piss out of them and instead takes the cash from those who can stand to afford it, like those individuals that the Affluent Unit and the High Net Worth team deal with on a regular basis. It’s important that everyone pay their fair share – everyone. Including the super-rich.

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