People who persist in smuggling small amounts of tobacco through Customs on a regular basis could face ‘multiplying penalties’ that increase by 100% of the potential lost revenue (PLR) for each subsequent wrongdoing committed within a specified period, under HM Revenue & Customs proposals to clamp down on repeat offenders.

Under the model proposed in ‘Sanctions to tackle tobacco duty evasion and other excise duty evasion’,* Finance Act 2008 Schedule 41 would be used as the basis for the multiplier penalty. Mitigation would only be allowed in limited circumstances where individuals fully co-operate with Border Force in providing information.

The consultation also seeks views on whether the proposed model could be used to tackle other excise duty evasion.

Other potential sanctions for tobacco duty evasion outlined in the consultation comprise

  • a new civil penalty that could be used where a case is deemed unsuitable for criminal prosecution but where a fiscal mark wrongdoing has clearly been committed
  • a reduction in the threshold for the publication of details of people or companies that deliberately evade duty
  • a statutory Duty of Care on landlords and landowners of properties or land where a tobacco offence has been committed