HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Booze Matters - HMRC Lose Tax Revenue

I am rather amused to read that MPs are up in arms at HMRC over its "soft" approach to prosecuting people for smuggling booze, and the loss in tax revenue from smuggled booze estimated at being £1.2BN per annum.

There is a touch of irony that those who receive taxpayer subsidised booze are complaining about the voters attempting to get their hands on their own form of "subsidised" booze.

Anyhoo, PAC have published a report today entitled "HM Revenue & Customs: Renewed Alcohol Strategy". Oddly enough it is dated 12th July 2012, the reasons for the delay in publication are not clear.

The report notes that there were no more than six successful prosecutions each year, in the four years to 2009-10.
However, Lin Homer has responded (as per the BBC):
"HMRC's performance in tackling alcohol fraud is measured by the combined impact of both civil and criminal proceedings on alcohol duty evasion - which increased significantly when the strategy was introduced.

Prosecutions are a strong deterrent and HMRC continues to investigate cases criminally where this will maximise impact on the fraud." 
Whilst the figure of £1.2BN lost per annum covers beer and spirits, there is no clear indication of the revenue lost from wine smuggling (much to the chagrin of PAC).

The report notes:
"The department does not make best use of intelligence and technology to detect and prevent alcohol duty evasion.

The department needs to work more closely with the industry to improve its understanding of legitimate export markets, and improve how it works with the UK Border Force to gather intelligence on illegal alcohol imports."
Here is an extract of the summary:
"In April 2010, HM Revenue & Customs (the Department) launched its renewed strategy to reduce the amount of tax lost each year due to alcohol duty evasion, principally through fraud which often involves exporting duty unpaid alcohol to the near continent, which is then redirected to the UK and released to the market with no duty paid. In 2010-11, the renewed strategy delivered £433 million in financial benefits against a target of £390 million.

The Department collected £9.5 billion of revenue from excise duties on alcohol in 2010-11. However, it estimates that there is a tax gap—the difference between taxes due and the amount actually collected—of up to £1.2 billion. The Department has not produced an estimate of the tax gap for wine, despite a commitment to our predecessors to do so. Without reliable information on the scale and nature of duty evasion for each category of alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) the Department cannot tailor its approach to target its efforts to tackle evasion to maximise value for money.

The Department does not yet have good enough information on the returns it secures from investing in specific areas of activity to make best use of the additional £917 million it plans to spend on reducing all kinds of tax avoidance and evasion. It told us that the rate of return on its work to reduce alcohol duty fraud is approximately £17 to £1 but it is not clear whether it could target its resources more effectively to secure a better return on its investment.

The Department is consulting on a range of measures to reduce alcohol duty fraud, including a proposal to introduce fiscal stamps for beer, an approach which appears to have been successful in reducing duty evasion on spirits. The Department does not yet have a full understanding of the costs and benefits of these proposals, including the compliance costs for the industry of introducing fiscal stamps for beer and the impact on legitimate wholesalers and retailers.

The Department does not make best use of intelligence and technology to detect and prevent alcohol duty evasion. The Department needs to work more closely with the industry to improve its understanding of legitimate export markets, and improve how it works with the UK Border Force to gather intelligence on illegal alcohol imports. In addition, the Department does not yet use the full capability of the Excise Movement Control System (EMCS), which facilitates the tracking of freight across the European Union, and could be used to target interventions and investigations more effectively. The Department implemented EMCS in phases over two years as planned, but did not make full use of its capabilities when implementation was completed.

Despite an estimated £1.2 billion being lost each year from duty evasion there are very few successful prosecutions for alcohol duties fraud. In the four years from 2006-07 to 2009-10 the highest number of successful prosecutions in any one year was six and the highest number of defendants was 16. The Department does not take enough account of the deterrent effect of successful prosecutions when considering the cost and benefits of
pursuing perpetrators through the courts."

Tax does have to be taxing.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

What is TAXWISE?

TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Taxwise

Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.

Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"


  1. It has said before, they cannot be trusted to run a booze-up in a brewery and this is the proof.
    It did not take a criminal genius or Phd in rocket science to realise the opportunities created when UK Border Farce joined the Muppets, one mans priority is another mans total lack of interest.
    As for intelligence, I rest my case, what they have ended up with isn't working in the best interests of the customer which includes UK PLC, whilst the criminal intelligence system has done its homework and reaps the benefit.
    Where are the risks?
    With anything that HMRC is responsible for that is related to the collection or protection of the revenue!

  2. Saw the BBC report on this, unbelievable, have this lot learnt anything about diversion fraud from the infamous London City Bond fiasco? Apparently not.
    The system of control relies upon compliance in order to work correctly and for a reason which escapes me, organised crime appears to have taken an interest. LOL.

    Phantom exports were also mentioned, as if it was a recent problem. LOL again.

    Wait till they work out that direct taxes are also being avoided on the income/profits in the UK.

    What a disgrace.

  3. Four and Twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
    Laces for a Lady, letters for a spy,
    Watch the wall my darling, whilst the Gen'lemen goes by...
    With apologies.

    Time does not change things much does it, save for the fact that the horsepower comes from Volvo or Mercedes!

    Shmugglers 100 Revenue Men 0

    Hint, if you want to find it, you have to look for it. Its patently obvious that the figures quoted are not the real ones, that would be unpalatable.

    Further hint, you won't find the answer on a whiteboard.

    It has been said previously, the revenue is not leaking, it is haemorrhaging (google definition).

  4. Interesting posts and all true.
    Now, heads under wings children and beaks under blankets here's your bedtime story, dont be frightened though, the ogre has long gone.
    Once upon a time there were 2 Government Departments responsible for collecting and protecting the Revenue, most of the time they did a reasonable job and 1 in particular was very effective when judged against the criteria of how much per £ Revenue collected it cost, the other was so complicated and multi facetted that no-one knew how much it really collected never mind how much it cost to do so.
    Then along came an ogre in the human form of Gordon of Broone and the rest as they say is history.
    Moral - If you cannot accept that you are human and make mistakes how the feck do you expect to learn from them.

    1. ERM.............That's what happens when one very small department, charged with collecting a couple of very small taxes, is merged with one very big department, charged with collecting....everything else..........

    2. Erm... thats what happens when a law enforcement department is merged with a bunch of wankers who invited people in for tea to discuss their ripping off the country, actually. Cunt.

  5. PAC got it wrong, HMRC don't lose revenue, they give it away.
    Those criminals out there view HMRC as a charity, but its one which is giving away our money all the same.
    Perhaps the Government should pass legislation to prohibit "charities" giving away more than £1bn p.a.

  6. What's the difference between an Eastern European shopkeeper in your High Street and HMRC?
    Only one of them's working.
    What's the difference between a Big Issue seller and HMRC?
    Only one of them is trying.
    What's the difference between HMRC and a LEGO set?
    At least the bricks in a LEGO set always fit together.
    What's the difference between HMRC and a jigsaw puzzle?
    You never know how many pieces are missing and there is no picture to work from.
    What's the difference between the smell from a durian fruit and the smell emanating from HMRC?
    Depends whether one or the other is upwind of you.
    Why did the HMRC manager cross the road?
    Nor does the manager.

    "I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation." William Somerset Maugham