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HMRC misses the mark in criminal prosecutions

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HMRC has ‘dramatically failed’ to meet its target of 100 criminal prosecutions of wealthy individuals and corporates by 2020, according to information obtained by law firm Kingsley Napley. HMRC set itself the target in 2015 following criticism by the Public Accounts Committee of the £34bn tax gap including a potential £16bn lost to tax fraud.

The firm reports that there has not been one prosecution of a company during the five-year period despite the provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, and the number of wealthy individuals investigated for tax crime in 2019/20 was 46 with lower figures for previous years.

David Sleight, partner at Kingsley Napley, said: ‘These figures are pretty staggering notwithstanding Brexit and covid. HMRC has been gifted 100 new measures to combat tax evasion and avoidance over the last 10 years and knows it is under pressure to deliver a step change in results. Yet it has undoubtedly failed to use its powers consistently or effectively. In my experience of recent dealings with HMRC, when it does act it will often take on the wrong case in the wrong forum. There is a scatter gun approach to civil or criminal action and a serious lack of application and focus. Investigations into taxpayers can last years with little progress being made and whilst people’s lives are put on hold.’

Issue: 1515
Categories: News