VAT and duty losses double to £17bn
The amount of unpaid VAT and excise duty may total as much as £17.3bn a year, according to a study published by the National Audit Office.
The report, based on the latest estimates from Customs & Excise, puts the annual loss to the Treasury in unpaid VAT through evasion, avoidance or error at between £7.1bn and 10.2bn a year. In addition to this it is thought that a further £7.1bn is lost annually through unpaid duty on alcohol, tobacco and hydrocarbon oils.
The latest figures are over twice as much as an estimate made by the NAO in February.
The public spending watchdog did however say Customs had changed the way it managed the collection of revenue, to ensure the right amount was being paid – during 2001/2002 the government department identified £2.5bn of net underpayments, 5% more than last year.