A SHOPKEEPER has been hit with a £1 million tax bill as part of a new approach to targeting the black market in tobacco.

The owner of a Newcastle mini market was handed a bill totalling £1,098,488 after investigations revealed he made around £2,500 a day from the sale of illicit tobacco over a five-year period.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Trading standards made a number of seizures from the store between 2012 and 2017.

HMRC has long focused on prosecuting for selling illegal cigarettes, but shopkeepers started to keep fewer cigarettes at the premises in an attempt to avoid prosecution or ensure any sentence after criminal conviction was as low as possible.

Investigators now examine the frequency and volume of the seizures made, as well as evidence gathered from business cash books, till receipts, bank accounts and other sources to calculate tax and penalties owed.

HMRC spokesman Eden Noblett said: “We constantly look to change and refine how we tackle tax cheats. As they change and develop, so will we.”