A nation of tax evaders

There’s a line in the Special Commissioners’ verdict on the Barclays disclosures which is truly quite shocking. HMRC has got its hands on more bank accounts as a result of the move than there are people who fill in the foreign income section of the tax return.

In assessing whether or not to grant the order, Special Commissioner John Avery Jones said: ‘ It is worth pointing out that the number of customers of the Financial Institution to which the Notices relate exceeds the total number of persons in the UK who have completed the foreign income pages in their returns.  Far from being a fishing expedition it seems probable that some 76% of cases will raise questions, in many of which there will be an innocent explanation, but in others there is likely to be default in complying with tax obligations.  The Inspector’s estimate is that 20% of cases will result in an additional yield of about £1,508m.  In the light of these statistics I am satisfied that the class of taxpayers specified is a proper one.’

You can read the verdict here.

This, to recap, is one bank. Hundreds of thousands of accounts are set to be scrutinised. Obviously we have to be a little bit careful about how many of those will be evasion, and how many neglect, but it is worth pondering.

Are we a nation of tax evaders? And when HMRC’s investigations are complete, will there be anyone left not in jail?

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