TaxPersonal TaxRevenue powers to prosecute may be extended

Revenue powers to prosecute may be extended

Paymaster general Dawn Primarolo has hinted Inland Revenue powers to prosecute income tax fraud in magistrates courts could be extended to evasion of capital gains and other taxes.

During Finance Bill committee debates, Primarolo announced the Revenue is setting up a 50-strong task force to mount criminal investigations – and that she thought it likely ‘prosecutions will reach the low hundreds’.

She added that ‘there could be an argument for applying the measure to other tax areas’.

But she said in her view it was important to focus on fraudulent income tax evasion but made it clear ‘we are not saying one form of tax fraud is more serious than another’.

Primarolo added – answering a question on capital gains tax fraud prosecution – with the standard Treasury phrase: ‘We always keep the tax system under review.’

Shadow chief secretary and accountant MP David Heathcoat-Amory, said he was ‘concerned about lawyers and accountants falling foul of this if there are increasing areas of greyness in tax law and something that they advised their clients to do is ruled to be tax evasion’.

But Primarolo made it clear that accountants and tax advisers could only themselves fall foul of the new form of prosecution if they were ‘knowingly and personally dishonest’.

Finance Bill debates

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