Four inspectors chase HMRC’s most wanted

Doubts have been raised about whether HMRC has enough resources to tackle the most serious forms of tax evasion after official figures showed that just four inspectors are chasing 124 tax fugitives.

Shabana Mahmood, the shadow Treasury minister, said people would be astonished that such a lax approach was being adopted after the amount of uncollected tax rose last year, the Guardian reported.

Labour criticised the government after...

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Comments

What do you expect?    2 thanks

the_Poacher | | Permalink

HMRC has had very substantial staff cuts in recent years so is it any wonder that fraudsters get away with it. Inspectors bring in many times their salary by way of tax, so why cut their numbers?

Wild Billy's picture

VERY poor reporting    1 thanks

Wild Billy | | Permalink

It is very odd how an (sensationalist) article can appear on AccountingWeb that references information from almost a month earlier.

Let's look at the ACTUAL information put into the public domain and on which The Guardian article is based:

The HMRC Fugitive Unit team consists of one higher officer and two officers managed by one senior investigation officer.

The Fugitive Unit liaise with the allocated HMRC officer (who has responsibility for the original investigation), sharing information to enable a fugitive to be located.

When an extradition is arranged the team are able to call on a cadre of HMRC officers specifically trained to handle extraditions from overseas.

The team focuses not only on the fugitives publicised in the Most Wanted campaign but also on all current HMRC fugitives. There are 124 HMRC fugitives.

The Fugitive Unit role is to review, trace and locate, and where possible extradite all current HMRC fugitives (including those featured in the Most Wanted campaign) and bring them before the UK court specified in the First Instance or Failure to Appear Warrant. HMRC staff (including the Fugitive Unit) use all available systems and resources to carry out this work. This includes working closely with HMRC’s fiscal liaison officers based overseas, Crown Prosecution Service, National Crime Agency, Interpol and other international partners

So not quite true that there are only "4 people chasing 124 fugitives". It sounds to me like a team of 4 people coordinate information about the 124 and then pass it to the relevant inspector to follow-up on. And that excludes those "fiscal liasion officers based overseas", who presumably do most of the leg work. As most of the fugitives will be nigh on impossible to trace because they are in hiding overseas, I'm not sure how many people the author of this article thinks should be allocated to the task. 20? 30? 50? 30 fugitives per member of the team doesn't seem hugely unreasonable if you imagine that there will be naff all to do most days on 95% of them. Does throwing more people at something mean that more fugitives will be caught and extradited to the UK? Not necessarily, unless someone can show me REAL evidence to the contrary. And I assume these people will come from elsewhere so that means worse service for the rest of us.