HMRC claims £24bn from tax crackdown

 In HMRC Investigation

HMRC has claimed it increased its tax take by 15%, up £3.2bn on last year, bringing in a record £23.9bn from “increased activity” on unpaid tax.

The Revenue said the haul was a result of its crackdown on large scale tax avoidance schemes, where more than £8bn came from large business, £1bn from criminals and £2.7bn from tackling avoidance schemes at court.

The figure is nearly £1bn higher than the target set by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement in December. Government targets include an extra £24.5bn in the year to next April, and £26.3bn for the following year. HMRC expects to secure £100bn between 2010 and 2015 as a result of its investigations into unpaid tax.

HMRC has stepped up efforts to publicise the results of its tax avoidance work in response to criticism from MPs last December. MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused it of not using all the sanctions at its disposal to pursue unpaid tax.

“In pursuing unpaid tax, HMRC has not clearly demonstrated that it is on the side of the majority of taxpayers who pay their taxes in full,” the MPs said.

However tax campaigner Richard Murphy questioned the HMRC figures. He said claiming the new tax legislation was the result of tax compliance activity was “political fantasy” and a PR department’s figment of the imagination.

“So what we actually have, it seems, are relatively small tax recoveries and massive claims for the impact of new tax legislation in deterring tax avoidance and evasion.

“…it’s hard enough estimating tax gaps well (and HMRC are lousy at it) but it’s nigh on impossible to estimate the impact of new legislation, whatever HMRC would like to claim. The result is that at best this number is simply made up and the whole basis of this claim is bogus.”

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