According to new figures, HMRC has raised a massive £23.9bn in additional tax for the year to the end of March following a crackdown on tax avoidance.
This is the highest amount HMRC has secured since records began and shows £3.2 billion increase on the previous year and is almost £1bn higher than the target set by Chancellor George Osborne in the 2013 Autumn Statement. This increase in unpaid tax revenues has been attributed to “increased activity” by the taxmen.
HMRC said that of the total amount raised more than £8 billion was secured from large businesses, over £1 billion from criminals and £2.7 billion from tackling tax avoidance schemes in the courts.
Exchequer secretary, David Gauke said: “We set HMRC ambitious targets to increase its yield and the figures published today demonstrate that HMRC is successfully meeting these challenges.”
The Exchequer secretary added, “It also sends a clear signal – HMRC will pursue those seeking to avoid their responsibilities and will collect the taxes that are due.”
In the last 12 months HMRC has been “naming and shaming” people who knowingly avoid paying their tax bills when these total £25,000 and more. Since 2013, HMRC has identified 60 people who had defrauded to the tune of £10 million by not paying the tax they owe. Prosecuted individuals include a barrister who was convicted of a £600,000 VAT fraud and a gang that was found guilty of making a film only for the purpose of a £2.8 million tax scam. Both convictions carried a prison sentence of 22 years. In another case, a professional tax advisor, Roy Faicheny, was jailed for 4 years for his part in a scam that helped him and his deputy, David Perrin, make £4.5 million from a scheme which saw them buy low value shares, donate them to charity and then claim £70 million in tax relief.
According to most recent figures, the tax gap – which is the difference between the amount of tax due and that collected – for the 2011-2012 financial year was £35 billion. HMRC expects to raise a total of £100bn between May 2010 and March 2015, which is a double the amount (£52 billion) they raised between 2005 and 2010.