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Serious tax evasion cases hit a five year low

CASES OF SERIOUS tax evasion identified by HMRC have fallen to their lowest level in five years, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

HMRC classified tax as ‘serious’ if the sum involved exceeds £50,000, or is worthy of prosecution.

From 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013, there were 2,888 suspected cases of serious tax evasion, a 16% drop from in the previous year and a 36% drop on its peak of 40,506 in 2010-11, analysis by the firm found.

The news comes as governments are increasing their efforts to clamp down on corporate tax evasion, with the official theme of the recent G8 summit in London being tax evasion and transparency.

HMRC has considerably increased its efforts to clamp down on evasion in recent years, and has been granted a range of new powers, such as the creation of specialist task forces, and an increase in resources, including the hiring of 2,500 new tax inspectors.

Phil Berwick, a partner at Pinsent Masons, said of the report: “This decline in suspected tax evasion doesn’t tally with the rhetoric from some quarters that the British economy is being undermined by a chronic under-collection of tax revenues”.

“HMRC has plenty of tools at its disposal to catch tax evaders which serves as a huge deterrent to those considering tax evasion.”

In a statement, HMRC said that it was committed to fighting tax evasion, saying: “HMRC has been given almost £1bn to tackle evasion, fraud and avoidance.”

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