Tax evaders named and shamed by HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs has intensified its crackdown on tax evasion by publishing names and addresses of “deliberate tax defaulters” on its website for the first time.

However, the ‘naming and shaming’ exercise has been criticised for concentrating on small businesses and individuals who between them owe just £1.45m in unpaid fines and taxes. The list features nine names including a hairdresser, a greengrocer and a knitwear manufacturer who have been investigated by HMRC.

Chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee Margaret Hodge welcomed the move as a first step but said it was striking that it only dealt with small companies.

“What people are angry about is big corporations which have aggressively avoided tax”, she said. “That’s where the big bucks are.  I think HMRC needs to go further in that respect.”

The list of names will be updated each quarter and will show those caught deliberately evading tax during investigations by HMRC since April 2010.

Phil Berwick, a director at Pinsent Masons the law firm, said: “HMRC has chosen to shame people at the lower end of the tax evasion spectrum because they think there are a lot of people in a similar financial position who are not paying tax and they want to flush those people out.”

“This list includes a wide range of trades and people based all over the country.  HMRC wants people to look at the list and think ‘it could be me’ and come forward of their own accord.”

Andrew Cross @arcustax said;

“Whilst it is right that HMRC pursue those taxpayers who do not pay their correct taxes, the perception is being created by them that they are more interested in the smaller businesses whilst the multi-nationals who are better able to stand up to and delay agreement with HMRC carry on their aggressive avoidance strategies.”

However, Treasury Minister David Gauke was unrepentant saying;  “The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures the vast majority who pay their taxes that there are consequences for those who refuse to tell HMRC about their full liability.”

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