Tax gap up hits £35bn in 2011/2012

FIGURES from HM Revenue & Customs show that the value of the tax shortfall has hit £35bn, a marginal rise in value on last year.

However, proportionally the gap has dropped to 7%, down a tenth of a percentage point on 2010/11.

The gap has been relatively consistent in value since 2004/05 – the furthest back estimates go – with the lowest figure coming in 2009/10 at £31bn and highest being £37bn in 2006/07, while two of the seven years posted a £33bn shortfall. The gap is regularly revised to take account of improved methods and the latest available information, and the figures published today include revisions going back to 2005/06.

While the value of the tax gap has not fluctuated greatly, the taxman’s estimates of the gap as a percentage of liabilities has dropped from 8.2% of tax owed in 2004/5 to 7% today.

The tax gap is compiled from 30 separate estimates for different taxes, and also breaks down reasons tax is not collected. These include tax evasion and avoidance, taxpayer error, the black market, criminal attacks and corporate insolvencies.

Exchequer secretary David Gauke said: “These figures show the tax gap is continuing to fall. The vast majority of businesses and individuals pay the taxes they owe. But where they don’t it is for HMRC to challenge non-compliance fiercely, protecting money that would otherwise be lost.

“Since 2010, the government has invested nearly £1bn in additional compliance initiatives over the Spending Review period. HMRC is on track to secure a further £44bn in tax revenues over the next two years.”

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