HMRC tax evasion hotline gets 300 calls a day

HMRC’s tax evasion hotline received 72,000 anonymous tip-offs over the last year, or about 300 calls per day, according to figures obtained by Bloomsbury Professional.

The hotline lets members of the public and businesses inform the Revenue of suspected cases of tax evasion.

Martin Casimir, managing director of Bloomsbury Professional, said the volume of calls is...

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Comments
ShirleyM's picture

Share the load    5 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

If tax evaders were tracked down, then we would all benefit in one way or another. It's only natural to want freeloaders to be made to take their share of the burden (if they won't do it voluntarily).

It's such as shame that the results seem to be so poor.

BKD's picture

I think you'll find, Shirley ...    2 thanks

BKD | | Permalink

... that the results are not 'poor' as such.  I suspect that a large number of calls are unsubstantiated, too small for the authorities to be concerned about or simply made out of mischief - or any combination of the three.

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

It's not just about cost...

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

We're all sharing the same benefits (NHS, education, welfare, etc.), so we need to share the costs equally as well. As ShirleyM quite rightly points out as long as freeloaders exist, there needs to be a mechanism of compulsion for those that don't contribute voluntarily.

I'm not a fan of "snitch lines", but with the closure of local offices there are no longer locally based inspectors with "hob-nailed boots on the ground" sniffing around for unregistered businesses and other forms of tax evasion.

In light of this a "snitch line" seems a least worst option even if the costs exceeded the returns. As BKD says, I also think that low returns are likely to be a function of:

  • Malicious snitching where no genuine evasion is taking place (ex partners, etc.)
  • Poor quality of information provided
  • Genuine calls not being followed up by investigation teams

Inevitably, if the alleged evaders are too far removed from the HMRC evasion teams I bet they won't get followed up due to the hassle factor. I wonder how likely it is for an evader to get investigated in the Shetland Isles now that the HMRC office in Lerwick has been closed (assuming the proposed closure from 2008 has now been executed)

memyself-eye's picture

Not just Shetland

memyself-eye | | Permalink

I doubt most evaders are in any danger of being caught anywhere in the UK. Still with the personal allowance now rising to sensible levels most of the small fry miscreants would probably not actually be earning enough anyway. The numbers of calls do make you wonder about the true level of evasion though.....

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Not necessarily...

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

memyself-eye wrote:
Still with the personal allowance now rising to sensible levels most of the small fry miscreants would probably not actually be earning enough anyway.

Fair point, although I'd be more worried about VAT evasion than income tax evasion. 

I don't get this    2 thanks

Oppco | | Permalink

I don't get this

If I could double my money I'd be happy, and if HMRC put some decent quality and motivated staff onto this, then I'm sure the 'yield' would increase

Why have the politicians squeezed the life out of HMRC?

 

ex partners

hiu612 | | Permalink

I read somewhere that about half the calls to the snitch line (as it seems to have been dubbed) are made by divorcees / ex partners and ex business partners. The Vicky Pryces of the world who want to 'stitch up' their ex, and are driven by malice as opposed to any sensible suspicion of tax evasion. Separating the wheat from the chaff must be half of HMRC's problem. But there also seems to be a preference to go after what we might call the soft targets. We see HMRC PAYE investigations where the letter of the law is sought to be applied to squeeze extra £'s out of basically compliant business owners, because the fact they are basically compliant makes them easy to track down, investigate, and squeeze. Much easier than trying to find those who stay out of the system altogether, operating only in the shadows.

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

In the interests of fairness...    1 thanks

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

Oppco wrote:
Why have the politicians squeezed the life out of HMRC?

It wasn't the politicians (excluding the idiotic merger of IR with R&C to create HMRC in the first pace) but the management that squeezed the life out of HMRC.

The retirement / voluntary redundancies program that followed the merger sucked all the expertise out of HMRC, leaving the remaining, mostly clerical staff adrift without adequate support in tax matters.

HMRC management since the merger have staggered from one crisis to another, exacerbated by attempting to apply one-size-fits-all "business solutions" such as pacesetter and process improvement on top of an inflexible and massively bloated tax code.

The only reason that tax revenues haven't collapsed is that the majority of collection is done by business through PAYE, VAT, CT, etc.

Unlike HMRC businesses suffer financial penalties for mistakes so their staff tend to be far more qualified, knowledgeable and professional than most of the HMRC staff, who are little more than call centre agents following telephone scripts and quoting HMRC manuals chapter-and-verse without any knowledge of the underlying tax statutes, legal precedent or even accounting basis.

I bet my original district inspector is spinning in his grave.

100% ROI

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Oppco wrote:

I don't get this

If I could double my money I'd be happy, and if HMRC put some decent quality and motivated staff onto this, then I'm sure the 'yield' would increase

Why have the politicians squeezed the life out of HMRC?

 

Double your money? why wouldn't you be pumping more into this? It sounds better than a ponzi scheme?

Trouble is they have also said that most people pay the correct tax and are honest! So the last thing the spin machine needs is statistics that indicate otherwise.

 

stretched budget

The Black Knight | | Permalink

"HMRC is already on a stretched budget. There is a question mark over whether HMRC has the manpower to deal with all the complaints that it receives,” Casimir said."

Looks like they have the power to stretch their own budget with a product that pays for itself?

How long does it take to issue a COP9 letter? The costs take care of themselves then surely?

 

 

bounty hunters.    1 thanks

tomriv801 | | Permalink

her in the u.s., bounty hunters are strictly licensed and controlled.and are paid on commission. - what about that for an alternative.

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Heard of Magna Carta?

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

tomriv801 wrote:
Here in the u.s., bounty hunters are strictly licensed and controlled.and are paid on commission. - what about that for an alternative.

Fortunately for the UK, our tax authorities have to have actual evidence of evasion before HMRC are allowed to "Send the boys round".

do they though

The Black Knight | | Permalink

frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

tomriv801 wrote:
Here in the u.s., bounty hunters are strictly licensed and controlled.and are paid on commission. - what about that for an alternative.

Fortunately for the UK, our tax authorities have to have actual evidence of evasion before HMRC are allowed to "Send the boys round".

Do they need evidence? or just a suspicion or information which might indicate tax evasion....surely evidence is gained during the enquiry?

They do not seem to use the powers available to them. (unless it's against the innocent).

I think a major part of the problem is HMRC still pick the wrong cases. (deliberately for an easy day?)

Inspectors spinning...    1 thanks

FMtaxation | | Permalink

I'm with frustratedwithhmrc wholeheartedly on this one, my former colleagues would not be able to recognise this new HMRC as the same animal they worked for...