Prosecutions on the rise for small time tax evaders

More small-time tax evaders are facing criminal investigation by HM Revenue & Customs with successful prosecutions doubling last year.

A report by law firm Pinsent Masons has revealed that prosecutions rose from 302 in 2011-12 to 617 in 2012-13.

A spokesperson for the firm said;

“In the space of just one year HMRC has massively ramped up the number of cases it takes to the criminal courts in order to clamp down on tax evasion.  However, to hit the target and maximise the deterrent effect, HMRC is now taking criminal cases against the kind of tax evaders it would have previously seen as small time.  This means criminal cases against ‘middle class’ professionals and tradespeople who are evading what are relatively small amounts of money.”

HMRC denied that they were targeting specific groups, saying it was their duty to ensure everyone paid the tax they owed ‘regardless of their occupation’.

Despite this, recent campaigns targeting professionals and tradespeople have raised over £600m in unpaid revenue and Pinsent Masons believe buy-to-let investors, lawyers, doctors and financial consultants are increasingly in their sights.

The claims come at a time when the government has been accused of being soft on big business tax avoiders by anti-poverty campaigners. 

A report published in June by Pinsent Masons revealed that the number of serious tax evasion cases where more than £50,000 was owed were at their lowest level for five years.

However, HMRC responded by saying the figures used in the report only referred to its ‘Evasion Referral Team’ which only dealt with ‘borderline cases’.

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