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Danny McCance 28 May 2019 11:45am

HMRC reaches prosecution referral target again

Last year, the government launched 1,007 prosecutions against individuals in relation to tax evasion offences

HMRC beat its target for referring 1,000 tax evasion cases to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for the year ended 31 March 2018, according to Thomson Reuters.

This is the fifth year in a row that HMRC has beaten its target, having reached it every year since 2013.

“Prosecutions are up significantly over the last five years and are likely to increase as new data sources filter through,” said Brian Peccarelli, CIO of customer markets at Thomson Reuters.

According to the news site, this figure could increase in the future due to data received by HMRC relating to offshore accounts from jurisdictions such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Furthermore, the Criminal Finances Act, introduced in 2017, enhances HMRC’s ability to hold businesses liable for the actions of employees and contractors.

https://economia.icaew.com/opinion/april-2019/hmrc-needs-companies-to-act-against-tax-fraud

“At the centre of HMRC’s tax evasion crackdown is an unprecedented data gathering exercise – bringing in far richer information from an increasing range of countries,” Peccarelli said.

He suggested that HMRC will be using “increasingly sophisticated AI tools” to analyse this data.

Peccarelli also said that the Revenue is increasingly going after more complex, high-value cases involving businesses, which will send a “strong message that will influence attitudes against non-compliance”.

“Tackling tax avoidance, evasion and unfair outcomes is a priority for this government," a government spokesperson said.

“We’ve been at the forefront of international action to reform global tax rules, using our presidency of the G8 in 2013 to initiate the first substantial renovation of international tax standards in almost a century," they added.

Last week, HMRC opened an investigation into ride-hailing app Uber over allegations that the company owes more than £1bn in unpaid UK tax.

Reports from September suggested HMRC had opened 27 new serious tax evasion cases into some of the UK’s top businesses.

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