The taxman has begun investigations into 531 restaurants suspected of tax evasion, with 22 facing possible criminal or civil prosecution. The total unpaid tax bill is thought to total millions of pounds; the potential amount of tax evaded in 45 cases where levels can be determined amounts to £634,050, according to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). HMRC is investigating 159 outlets in London, 150 in north west England and 222 in Scotland. The action follows the launch of an HMRC task force on tax evasion in the sector in May this year, part of an overall £900m investment to crack down on an estimated £7bn worth of tax evasion and fraud each year by 2014.