The Chancellor recently announced a £100m major fraud taskforce designed to put an end to those that are exploiting the government support schemes.
The Taxpayer Protection Taskforce will be staffed by more than 1,250 HMRC operatives. They will be responsible for detecting and investigating those who have fraudulently claimed taxpayer’s money through schemes such as furlough and the equivalent Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
HMRC have opened around 10,000 inquiries into suspected fraudulent activity and have in some instances begun criminal investigations.
Whilst we are confident that most employers are fully familiar with the scheme rules, we continue to receive advice requests daily with both simple and the more challenging queries relating to furlough. We urge you to audit your furlough claims and take a second opinion on whether your actions are compliant with the scheme rules.
HMRC have been clear from the outset that they will make payment of all claims on trust, but insisted that employers retain records of the detail relating to the claim as they reserved the right to investigate all claims for a period of up to 5 years.
The amnesty period provided for in the Finance Act 2020 where claimants were given the opportunity to declare any mistakes made in claims expired in the 4th quarter of last year. Therefore any false claims whether mistakenly made or more purposely misrepresented could result in repayment in the simplest form, a fine and/or a criminal investigation.
HMRC are keen to hold fraudulent claimants responsible for their actions, with recent reports of a case where a 57 year old man been arrested for furlough fraud amounting to £495,000. In a separate case 2 people were arrested for the same offence reaching £700,000 in furlough fraud and a more serious case of 1 woman being arrested and investigated for false representation and money laundering.
If you are in any doubt of whether you may have committed an offence under the furlough scheme, please do call NucleusHR and chat it through.
This document is provided for general informational and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with NucleusHR by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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