HMRC’s specialist ‘Wealthy North’ team brings in more extra tax from investigating wealthy people in the North than its specialist wealth investigation teams anywhere else in the UK, according to Pinsent Masons.
In 2021/2022, the Wealthy North team collected £138m ($164.5m) in compliance revenue, compared to £82m collected by each of the ‘Wealthy Central & South’ and ‘Wealthy Wider UK’ teams. This is a trend that has continued since 2017/18.
HMRC has made a large investment in its investigation capabilities in the North in recent years as pockets of significant wealth have developed. The best-known of these areas is the ‘Golden Triangle’, a small area of affluent towns and villages including Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Prestbury in Cheshire.
The Golden Triangle has become known for its community of north-west based footballers, with many household-name players from clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool calling the areas home. The area is also popular among high-earning central Manchester financial and professional services workers.
When investigating wealthy individuals living in the UK, HMRC often focuses on their ownership of undeclared overseas assets such as property, bank accounts and investments. The tax authority now receives data from tax authorities in more than 100 countries and uses it to target its investigations on those it believes are evading tax on assets overseas.
Pinsent Masons partner, Steven Porter, said: “HMRC has made investigations of wealthy people in the North a real focus in recent years. These figures show that its investments are now paying dividends.
“While people often assume London and the South East is the UK’s centre of wealth, parts of the North are now every bit as well-off. Income tax bills in parts of Cheshire and North Yorkshire are just as high as in many London boroughs and the home counties.
“HMRC believes that where there is concentrated wealth, there tends to be high-value tax evasion and avoidance. Wealthier people are more likely to have assets offshore and HMRC sees that as a particularly high-risk area for unpaid tax.”