A year ago HMRC launched its "Most Wanted" gallery:
"To help in the effort to hunt down the United Kingdom’s biggest tax fraudsters, HMRC will place photographs of its Most Wanted on its flickr channel and ask members of the public to assist in finding them.Has it worked?
The Most Wanted are tax criminals who have absconded after being charged with a crime or during trial. HMRC has worked with Crimestoppers to gather information from the public that may help capture these criminals and others like them, but this is the first time that HMRC has published photographs and details of tax dodgers’ crimes."
Not really, not at least in terms of the political imperative of seeing results in a relatively short period of time.
The BBC reports that only one of the UK's 20 most-wanted alleged fraudsters and tax evaders named on the list has been caught. This has caused Labour to decry the scheme as a failure.
Irrespective of whether putting mugshots of tax evaders on the internet is an effective means of tackling this form of criminality, as opposed to being merely a form of political pr, it is unrealistic to expect to see the "top twenty" banged to rights within a year.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the ACCA, quite rightly said that politics should be taken out of the equation. Instead, more resources should be put into HMRC to assist it catch the suspects.
As he said, there is "no silver bullet" to catch these people; it will take a long time.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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