The move – by way of a new amendment to this year’s Finance Bill – is designed to crackdown on minor tax crimes and hit benefit cheats.
Major evasion will continue to be dealt with in Crown Court subject to existing penalties, according to Treasury officials.
The intention was to make it easier to deal with benefit and tax offences at the same time – not alter procedures affecting larger amounts of missing tax.
Brown made the announcement in a major speech at the London School of Economics as MPs prepared to get down to committee room debates on details of the Bill – already expected to become a marathon which will have to be subjected to the guillotine to ensure it passes into law later this summer.
And it was clear the new regime will be necessary to cope with the increase in small-scale evasion likely as a result of the switch in delivering family benefits to the Working Families Tax Credit.
Immediately after discussing the new credit, Brown launched into an attack on the black economy he claimed ‘is now draining billions of pounds in fraudulent benefit claims and unpaid taxes.’
He said evasion prosecutions would be conducted by the Inland Revenue.
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