I was interested to see that HMRC provide information under the FOI (Freedom of Information Act). Their web site provides these: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/freedom/disclosure-log.htm
There is a periodic report on the amount of tax under consideration on a particular date. HMRC report that they would expect to recover around half of this tax. Even so, between £10billion and £15billion appears to be at stake at any time. This is a massive sum, considering the Government's own cash difficulties.
I have two questions -
1. why is so much tax st stake?
2. why have HMRC allowed investigations to continue for (their words) several years?
I note that around £2billion of the total at 31 March 2011 is VAT, of which half is related to 'Fleming' claims, where taxpayers are pursuing VAT beyond the limits imposed by the three-year rule debacle. This rule was brought in 15 years ago (May 1996), and HMRC have still not dealt with the problem.
It is possible to deal with VAT matters professionally AND efficiently, but it seems HMRC are persistently failing to do so. One personal grumble is their tendency to write rather than to meet. How often would a problem be resolved by a well-planned meeting? Instead, correspondence continues for months and years, leaving the taxpayer will substantial costs and lots of frustration.
(Grumble over; climbs down gingerly off soap-box. Next time expect something different!)