The Sunday Times: Prosecutions rise as taxmen target middle-class evaders

 In HMRC Investigation

Jason Collins, a partner at Pinsent Mason is quoted in today’s Sunday Times as saying, “In the space of just one year, HMRC has massively ramped up the numbers of cases it takes to the criminal courts. It is now taking criminal cases against the kind of tax evaders it would have previously seen as small-time. This means criminal cases against ‘middle-class’ professionals and tradespeople who are evading relatively small sums of money.”

Why can’t HMRC focus their resources for the big tax defrauders? Your comments welcome.

The Sunday Times article below…

The Sunday Times: Prosecutions rise as taxmen target middle-class evaders

Criminal prosecutions for tax evasion more than doubled last year as Revenue & Customs cracked down on middle-class tax dodgers.

HMRC initiated 617 prosecutions in 2012-13, up from 302 the previous year, according to figures obtained by the law firm Pinsent Masons. Accountants, lawyers and buy-to-let property owners were among those targeted in the clampdown.

The Revenue aims to increase the number of tax evasion prosecutions to 1,165 a year by 2014-15.

“Normally HMRC would have used civil recovery methods to claw in this evaded tax,” said Jason Collins, a partner at Pinsent Masons. “Now you can face a life-changing criminal record and prison sentence.”

Keir Starmer, QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, warned last February that large-scale tax evasion could result in “significant custodial sentences” of up to seven years. Tax evasion cost the UK economy £14 billion a year, he said, equivalent to £530 from each household or £769 per family.

Although 86 per cent of tax evasion cases result in conviction, HMRC has faced criticism that it is targeting “low-lying fruit”.

Jonathan Fisher, QC, a fraud specialist, said as the Crown Prosecution Service would have to bear the costs of the rise in prosecutions, it would probably take on simpler cases rather than complex corporate or offshore tax evasion.

Full article here.

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