16 Dec 2013 11:23am

Record £20bn yield for HMRC

HMRC collected £20.7bn in revenue through investigations into tax avoidance and evasion this year

The total represents £2bn more than was targeted and an 11% increase on last year, according to research from UHY Hacker Young.

The Revenue has been more aggressive in its approach to evasion this year as government has set increasingly ambitious targets in an attempt to claw back extra revenue.

It has particularly targeted smaller businesses. UHY says that the additional revenue from tax investigations into small businesses jumped 30% to £565m last year. At the same time, the compliance yield from investigations into personal tax returns rose by 38% to £609m.

Roy Maugham, tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, said that while it is good news for the Treasury, “you have to ask whether all the extra enforcement activity needed for HMRC to over-shoot its target is a good thing or not”.

He added, “There is a risk that HMRC’s hard-line tactics pressurise some into making payments that they might not even owe.”

“Not all of the extra tax take is from clear cut tax evasion – it is often from HMRC imposing its view of how the tax system works on SMEs and individual tax payers through the use of an army of tax inspectors and lawyers. Businesses and taxpayers that can’t afford professional advice to deal with a HMRC investigation don’t stand a very good chance.”

“Many feel they have no choice but to just pay up otherwise they risk being dragged into expensive litigation.”

Raymond Doherty


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