Five plumbers have been arrested and around 600 more are being investigated for possible tax fraud by HM Revenue & Customs.
The arrests come after a campaign targeting plumbers which invited them to put their tax affairs in order. Some of those involved owe up to £150,000.
More raids are expected to take place over the coming weeks across the UK, including Yorkshire, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Tyne & Wear, Midlands and South Wales.
John Pointing, assistant airector, HMRC Criminal Investigation, said: “These raids and arrests of ‘ghosts’ – people who have not declared income from the work they do – are the culmination of months of work by HMRC.
“We provided a chance for those we have arrested, and the 600 we are investigating, to come forward voluntarily and put things right. These arrests send a clear message that HMRC will take action against those who choose not to come forward and pay the tax they owe.”
Under the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan (PTSP), plumbers, gas fitters, heating engineers and members of associated trades who owe tax that they had not declared faced a penalty rate of only 10%, with a maximum of 20% if they disclose in full. They have until 31 August to arrange for payment.