HMRC prepares to cut jobs while tackling tax evasion

The taxman is preparing to cut down its workforce as the government attempts
to plug the UK’s £167bn public spending deficit.

According to the PCS union, 20,000 jobs have gone since 2006 and
has a target of cutting 25,000 jobs in total and closing more than 200 offices
by 2011.

HM Revenue & Customs unveiled its strategy in its Business Plan for the
next year, which also reiterated the department’s commitment to foiling tax

Leslie Strathie, HMRC’s chief executive, said the next financial year was set
to be a tough one for the department as it continued to respond to changing
demands impacting the way the taxman collects revenue while also making the
payments people are entitled to.

“I am confident we will rise to these challenges as we continue to focus on
the tax gap. Although we still need to reduce the size of our workforce, I want

our people to feel that HMRC is an exciting place to work,” said Strathie.

“We have talented and hard-working people who meet these challenges head on,
but as we become smaller we need a more highly skilled workforce if we are to
deliver what is expected of us by government and our customers.”

The taxman will aim to push through these cuts while maintaining its
crackdown on those trying to avoid paying taxes.

HMRC has said it will look to tackle deliberate non-compliance by further
improving the way it assesses levels of risk.

“We will ensure those seeking to evade tax are subject to robust and
effective civil and criminal action. This will increase the deterrent effect of
our work and make it harder to evade paying taxes.”

HMRC now has powers which cut across all taxes, allowing the department to
carry out checks on current records of all businesses, and, perhaps contro
versially, visit business premises without giving advance notice in some cases.

“The proposed penalty regime incorporates a tax-geared system to be imposed
on those who fail to give notification as required. This is in addition t
tax-geared penalties for making an inaccurate return.

“These measures significantly alter the risk versus reward ratio of offshore
evasion, and we will introduce powers to charge penalties for late payments of
in-year PAYE,” the taxman warned.

“We will continue to target the hidden economy by working with other
government departments and enforcement agencies to identify and tackle ‘ghosts’
who do not declare any of their income or ‘moonlights’ who only declare part of
their income.”

Related reading