Resort tax cheats hit by taskforce

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A task force set up to clamp down on tax cheats in Blackpool has swooped on another 64 premises.

More than 50 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), supported by Blackpool Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police visited numerous takeaways, hotels, pubs, restaurants, off licences, seafront sellers and caravan parks to check they were trading legitimately.

In the latest swoops this month officers visited 18 licensed retailers and corner shops and confiscated 2,135 litres of beer, wine and spirits after it became clear the UK duty had not been paid.

It is estimated the unpaid duty of that amount of alcohol alone would be £4,000.

The operation also saw 31 takeaways visited to see if all staff were being paid in line with the National Minimum Wage.

Officers said several key issues were identified and all 31 shops will be revisited.

Detailed tax and VAT investigations are also continuing at 15 hotels and bed and breakfasts after irregularities were identified.

All the visits followed extensive work by the HMRC to identify potential fraudsters.

This latest crackdown began in July when £20,000 worth of non-duty paid 10 per cent strength lager was seized from an unsuspecting Blackpool corner shop.

Chris Brett, HMRC’s Blackpool task force leader, said: “This operation forms part of wider HMRC taskforce activity.

“Evading tax is a deliberate decision by some people not to pay the tax they know is due.

“Our intelligence suggests there is a significant risk of under-declaration of income in the leisure and holiday sector in Blackpool.

“This deprives the community of funds and gives dishonest traders an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses.”

To report suspicions on tax evasion call 0800 788 887.

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