HMRC beat its target for tax investigation work by £2 billion in the past year, bringing the total revenue it raised through compliance work to an all-time high, according to new research.

Analysis by UHY Hacker Young shows a record £20.7billion in additional revenue was collected by HMRC through compliance work focused on tax avoidance and evasion in 2012/13 – up 11% from the £18.6billion taken in the previous year.

Roy Maugham, tax partner at the firm, said: “HMRC’s target for the amount of extra revenue it wants to claw back from compliance investigations has become massively ambitious. But it has managed to smash through that target.

“Not all of the extra tax take is from clear cut tax evasion – it is often from HMRC imposing its view of how the tax system works on SMEs and individual taxpayers through the use of an army of tax inspectors and lawyers. Businesses and taxpayers that can’t afford professional advice to deal with a HMRC investigation don’t stand a very good chance. Many feel they have no choice but to just pay up otherwise they risk being dragged into expensive litigation.”