Wednesday 18 July 2012

The Phoneline That HMRC Really Does Answer

Now here's an interesting thing, there is (believe it or not) a telephone number that HMRC really does answer and take note of what is said by the caller.

I kid you not!

Can you guess what telephone number that is children?

Yes, that's right, it's the number to HMRC's tax evasion hotline!

Bloomsbury Professional submitted a Freedom of Information Request about the line, and the number of calls it receives. According to Accountancy Live HMRC’s tax evasion hotline received over 74,000 tip-offs about alleged tax evasion in 2011, a fall of around 9% from the previous year.

The hotline has received over 412,111 calls in the last five years.

A 2008 National Audit Office report revealed that just £2.6m in tax was collected as the result of the hotline in 2006-07, less than the expected £32.5m. 

HMRC said:
"HMRC has a responsibility to ensure everyone pays the tax that they owe, and clamping down on those who try to cheat the system is a key priority. 

We value the information we receive from the public through the tax evasion hotline, and all information is analysed and a decision made on the most appropriate course of action.

We are developing ways of exploiting the intelligence with our powerful profiling capability to match commercial, wealth and behavioural risk with important intelligence from taxpayers who are concerned about those that avoid paying their fair share."

Cough, can you spot the accidental "slip of the tongue" by HMRC within the above?

Yes, that's right, "avoid paying their fair share" (ie avoidance) being used as a basis for reporting tax evasion.


Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue?

Sadly not, for if you go to the HMRC page that gives details of the tax EVASION hotline, you will see this phrase:
"A confidential phone line for you to report somebody who is not paying their fair share of tax."
"Fair share"?

That is a very judgemental and woolly phrase, associated with the bleatings of politicians and witchfinders who have been going on about avoidance and accusing all and sundry of avoiding tax; evasion is a crime, and occurs when someone deliberately understates their taxable income with the intent to defraud.

The original purpose of the line was purely for tax evasion (see this page from Direct Gov published in 2009). However, HMRC are now, like the politicians, trying to blur the distinction between avoidance and evasion.

Wrt "fair share" (which has no legally recognised meaning), how the hell can someone (without full access to the financial records of an individual/company) know what that person's/company's "fair share" is?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. If they are looking at evasion instead of avoidance they could save money, time and effort if they read the newspapers.
    The reporters even calculate the amount of tax being evaded by both the employer and the employee, sorry, seperate legal entity!
    See yesterdays newspapers ref BBC/HMRC.
    Go buy some corks and gaffer tape to plug the loopholes.

  2. One might almost imagine some accountants have a vested interest in a system which allows people to avoid paying their fair

    1. What pisses off most people is the hypocrisy of the system which quite frankly appears to knock shite out of the little people whilst doing bugger all about the top tiers.

    2. I think you will find the reality is that concentration is focused on easier targets rather than those that make things difficult. Whether large or small. Not 100% of the time, but most.

      Lots of talk about dealing with invasion, but the senior management havent got a clue when it comes to the amount of time it takes to work one of those cases.

  3. To be fair, although I agree with much of what is written on here, this story reaches a level of Mr P Dantic that goes beyond pointing out inadequacies in HMRC and knocks on the door of desperate.

    Is there really anything wrong that people paying their fair share?