All in it together

Of late there seems to have been rather more news about people being sent to prison for tax evasion than normal, possibly marking a real increase in HMRC’s activity in this area, says Simon Sweetman.

In general, we are slow to put people away for tax offences in this country, because, well, they’re not really the sort of people you send to prison (and because HMRC finds it difficult to convict the sort of people whose imprisonment might send a message). Many other countries are less reluctant to reach for this weapon: in the USA the rapper Beanie Sigel has just been sent down for two years, and Wesley Snipes was given three years in December 2010. Lauryn Hill is facing up to three years after pleading guilty last moth.

Al Capone, as everyone knows, went to prison for tax evasion because they couldn’t get him for anything else. But in most cases prison for tax offences is overwhelmingly intended as a warning to others, rather than retribution (and the notion of prison as a place where people may be reformed, rather than taught new and interesting criminal practices, seems long ago to have vanished from the British penal system).

Continued...

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Comments

Expensive Lawyers    1 thanks

Roland195 | | Permalink

Can anyone explain why the hooker & the plumber are being jailed for comparatively trivial sums ?

I was going to suggest the benefit of expensive lawyers but the escort could likely afford one of the best (indeed, they probably have similiar hourly rates - I will stop the hooker/lawyer jokes here as they would take a forum of their own and would be in bad taste). 

Could it be zero compliance that got them jailed Roland?

AddsUP2Me | | Permalink

Roland195 wrote:

Can anyone explain why the hooker & the plumber are being jailed for comparatively trivial sums ?

I was going to suggest the benefit of expensive lawyers but the escort could likely afford one of the best (indeed, they probably have similiar hourly rates - I will stop the hooker/lawyer jokes here as they would take a forum of their own and would be in bad taste). 

 

Is the deciding factor that they paid absolutely no tax on their earnings, whereas others were compliant in some areas of their affairs and not in others? I may be wrong in thinking that both the plumber and call-girl stayed completely outside the formal economy and declared none of their work. Also the call-girl had other circumstances of interest to the police.

A Hertfordshire man was jailed for 15 months this July for failing to pay tax and national insurance on £1 million he earned over an 11 year period. Again he appears to have paid no tax on earnings from his railway planning limited company whatsoever. Transport police were involved. He forged documents.

I wonder how many people are jailed per year for tax evasion outside the serious stuff. By that I mean when it is not a 'serious' crime such as VAT carousel fraud; not cigarette smuggling; not linked to other crimes such as drug dealing; not committed by gangs conspiring; and when not by a policeman/solicitor/accountant/etc.?

HMRC press releases seem to identify mostly bigger scale frauds and greater betrayals of professional trust.

Good to genuineh evasion dealt with but....

Cynical_Templar | | Permalink

HMRC's web page which gives details of the evasion hotline invites people to shop those "not paying their fair share of tax" this gives an inaccurate view of what evasion is.

If HMRC and the Government continue to seek to blur the line between evasion and avoidance they will only alienate the business community further.

Missing the point    2 thanks

Philip Espin | | Permalink

The hooker case is an interesting one as according to press reports it was taken by the police and there is no press release on the HMRC website.  She was arrested in November 2011 and the case was brought to trial in just over 6 months.

What this says to me is that the police can prosecute simple tax fraud much more expeditiously than HMRC can.  It usually takes HMRC a couple of years at least.  No wonder they are keeping quiet about it.  So no, I don't see much sign of HMRC improving their act just yet.

Maybe they should get the police involved more frequently.  Raid the home of a few banksters and find their undeclared tax haven bank accounts, its nice when the job is done properly.

If I'm wrong on this no doubt HMRC can publish statistics to prove it.

 

a plea from the author    1 thanks

oldersimon | | Permalink

There are plenty of English words for those who practice the oldest profession (not accountancy this time). So can we please do without the American "hooker" ?

American words    1 thanks

Philip Espin | | Permalink

How about "popular singer" rather than rapper?

Yes but what

Roland195 | | Permalink

oldersimon wrote:

There are plenty of English words for those who practice the oldest profession (not accountancy this time). So can we please do without the American "hooker" ?

I realise that "hooker" is an unfortunate Americanism however it is a fairly innocuous term that has no equivalent in British English.

pedantry (and why not)

oldersimon | | Permalink

I would say that a rapper is a particular type of singer (as in "crooner") and I only think "hooker" sound innocuous because we don't use it !

Words & music

leon0001 | | Permalink

1. Rappers don't sing, they read poetry.

2. Where does it say that the escort plays rugby?

So what is your alternative?    1 thanks

Roland195 | | Permalink

oldersimon wrote:

I only think "hooker" sound innocuous because we don't use it !

Lady of the night?