HMRC’s fight against tax avoidance is bearing fruit

HMRC has reported that it raised an extra £20.7 billion in additional revenue during the financial year 2012-13, a result of its continued push on tax compliance and anti-avoidance measures. That’s an increase of £2.1 billion on the preceding year and is actually £2 billion above its original target.

This information comes hot on the heals of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, about which we reported in early December. Following that Statement, the Treasury issued documents including a ‘Scorecard’ which measures the impact of the Chancellor’s actions in regard to revenue collections. Of the 59 items listed in the scorecard, 20 fell directly into the categories of “Avoidance, tax planning and fairness” or “Fraud, error and debt”. The measures are estimated to yield a further £1,515 million in 2014-15 and £8,900 million in total by close of play 2018-19.

This couldn’t come at a better time for the Exchequer because it is politically difficult to increase taxes directly in the current economic climate – but clearly HMRC needs to get all the tax revenues that it can to clear the mountain of debt. It is fair, in our view, to go after those who are not paying what they should, particularly large corporations and the very rich who, in some cases, have long been engaged in activity such as hiding assets or diverting profits offshore. But that net is tightening as we reported back in November. You may not agree but we think it is good to see HMRC doing their job and clamping down on large scale tax avoidance. After all if they weren’t chasing after the large players who cheat the country out of millions and millions, we, the ordinary people of London and the UK, would all have to pay more tax to make up the shortfall.