HMRC claims £24bn from tax crackdown
HMRC has claimed it increased its tax take by 15%, up £3.2bn on last year, bringing in a record £23.9bn from “increased activity” on unpaid tax.
The Revenue said the haul was a result of its crackdown on large scale tax avoidance schemes, where more than £8bn came from large business, £1bn from criminals and £2.7bn from tackling avoidance schemes at court.
David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “We set HMRC ambitious targets to increase its yield and the figures published today demonstrate that HMRC is successfully meeting these challenges.
“It also sends a clear signal - HMRC will pursue those seeking to avoid their responsibilities and will collect the taxes that are due.”
HMRC also said it had protected the exchequer from future tax avoidance by closing corporation tax and stamp duty land tax loopholes.
The figure is nearly £1bn higher than the target set by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement in December. Government targets include an extra £24.5bn in the year to next April, and £26.3bn for the following year. HMRC expects to secure £100bn between 2010 and 2015 as a result of its investigations into unpaid tax.
The most recent figures from HMRC for the year 2011/12 also show the tax gap increased to £35bn, standing at 7%.
HMRC has stepped up efforts to publicise the results of its tax avoidance work in response to criticism from MPs last December. MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused it of not using all the sanctions at its disposal to pursue unpaid tax.
“In pursuing unpaid tax, HMRC has not clearly demonstrated that it is on the side of the majority of taxpayers who pay their taxes in full,” the MPs said.
However tax campaigner Richard Murphy questioned the HMRC figures. He said claiming the new tax legislation was the result of tax compliance activity was “political fantasy” and a PR department’s figment of the imagination.
“So what we actually have, it seems, are relatively small tax recoveries and massive claims for the impact of new tax legislation in deterring tax avoidance and evasion.
“…it’s hard enough estimating tax gaps well (and HMRC are lousy at it) but it’s nigh on impossible to estimate the impact of new legislation, whatever HMRC would like to claim. The result is that at best this number is simply made up and the whole basis of this claim is bogus.”
The “record breaking” tax revenue comes as HMRC publishes HMRC fast facts: Record compliance revenues for the UK.
It provides an overview of HMRC’s compliance activities and highlights the actions HMRC has taken to tackle tax avoidance, including launching taskforces, publishing the details of deliberate and serious defaulters and challenging tax avoidance through the courts.
It also provides information on future steps as the tax authority continues its fight against those who try to cheat the system, including tackling high-risk promoters, tackling employment and offshore tax avoidance and issuing accelerated payments for users of tax avoidance schemes.