The government has raised a record £23.9bn in additional tax for the year to the end of March as a result of a crackdown on tax avoidance, almost £1bn higher than the target set by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement.
This constitutes extra money raised, in addition to regular tax receipts. The amount collected has increased by £3.2 billion in a year and £9 billion compared to three years ago, demonstrating HMRC’s focus on tackling tax evasion.
HMRC secured the money – the highest amount since records began – as a result of its investigations and increased activity on pursuing unpaid tax and said that of the total amount it had raised, more than £8bn came from large businesses, £1bn from criminals and £2.7bn from tackling avoidance schemes in courts.
Tax payers more likely to be scrutinised
A new report shows that in the last four years 2,650 people were prosecuted for not paying tax and that HMRC won 80 per cent of cases taken to court. In addition, in the last 12 months it has been ‘naming and shaming’ people who have deliberately avoided paying their tax bills (for those that total £25,000 and more).
The number of self-assessment taxpayers whose financial affairs HMRC investigated in the past 12 months has almost doubled – self-assessment inquiries hit 237,215 people last year, up from around 119,000 in 2011-12 since and tax investigations into the self-employed have reportedly quadrupled in the same period.
The clamp down is underlined by the 42 changes to tax law that have been introduced since March 2010, to close loopholes and the 75% reduction in new registered tax avoidance schemes.
However, pointing to SMEs, HMRC acknowledged that for many such businesses non payment of tax is not a deliberate choice, but symptomatic of a short-term cashflow problem and that these businesses would continue to be treated proportionately.
In total, the Revenue said it expects to secure £100bn between May 2010 and March 2015 as a result of its investigations into unpaid tax.