25 Nov 2019 03:20pm

Tax evasion arrests down 11 per cent

The number of arrests made in the UK for suspected tax evasion has dropped to the lowest level in five years

Last year there were 782 arrests made, a drop of 11% from the 877 made in 2017/18, according to City law firm RPC.

RPC argues that the fall is in part due to HMRC being hit with a number of wrongful arrest claims brought by taxpayers.

This has forced the Revenue to be more cautious. A taxpayer who is under investigation for tax evasion will agree to attend a voluntary interview under caution with HMRC.

If the taxpayer is cooperating, HMRC should not ordinarily exercise their power of arrest, says RPC. HMRC now has over 1,500 officers with the ability to arrest a person.

“There has been some criticism of HMRC for being too ‘trigger happy’ in the past – fewer arrests could be a sign that HMRC is now exercising its powers of arrest more responsibly and in accordance with the law,” says Adam Craggs, partner at RPC.

“If HMRC has taken that criticism on board, and is now being more thorough before deciding to make an arrest then that is to be welcomed.”

The average prison sentence length for tax evasion in the UK is now more than two and a half years. In the past year it has risen from two years and five months to two years and seven months