Tax investigators have been challenged to “show their teeth” after they revealed plans to search the books of leading builders’ merchants to stamp out black market traders.
HM Revenue & Customs said it was using legislation successfully employed in other sectors to sift through customers account details at builders’ merchants and cross-reference data with tax receipts.
A spokesman said: “We are looking at how we might apply existing legislation to obtain data from suppliers to further enhance the information we already have, and that process is under way.
“Once we are clear that there is a viable route to obtaining information we will start to contact those who hold the data.”
Liz Bridge, secretary to the Joint Tax Committee of Construction, welcomed the move but questioned whether HMRC had the manpower to reduce black market trading.
“If HMRC cannot resource it, if they launch campaigns without really delivering the punch they have promised, we will need to go to ministers [to tackle the black market],” Ms Bridge said.