HMRC have answered my recent FOI request re counter avoidance, saying they won't answer my questions:
"Dear Ken Frost
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Thank you for your request, which was received on 16 May, for the following information:
“1) How much tax yield has been allocated to the activities of the Counter Avoidance Group
since its inception?
2) How many cases previously worked in local compliance offices had been successfully
progressed to conclusion with non-zero yield?
3) How many cases had been closed with zero yield by Counter Avoidance?
4) How many cases had been closed because the inquiry window has been passed since
the cases were initially brought for inquiry?”
I can confirm that HMRC holds information that falls within the scope of your request.
However, we estimate that it would exceed the FOIA cost limit to deal with it. The cost limit,
which is specified in regulations, equates to one person spending 3½ working days locating
and extracting all of the information within scope of the request.
Normally, HMRC would explore with you how you might be able to narrow or refine your
request so that it did not exceed the FOIA cost limit. However, in this case, I cannot see any
scope for doing this.
To provide the information you have requested, we would need to carry out manual search
as well search various recording systems across multiple HMRC business streams and
offices to extract, locate and identify cases previously dealt with in local compliance offices
before the inception of the Counter-Avoidance Directorate. We would then need to conduct
an in-depth review of each case to ascertain whether it relates to tax avoidance, whether it
has been successfully progressed to conclusion, whether or not there was a yield or not and
whether it was closed because the inquiry window has been missed or not.
I have established that the time necessary to complete this task would exceed the cost limit
by some way. Consequently, under section 12(1) of the FOIA, HMRC is not obliged to
comply with your request and we will not be processing it further.
Outside of the FOIA
To be helpful and outside of the FOIA, in 2013 HM Revenue and Customs set up a
dedicated Counter Avoidance Directorate, bringing together technical, policy and operational expertise from across the Department into one place, in order to concentrate their focus on
tackling marketed tax avoidance schemes.
Since 2014, £4.5 billion has been received from Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) and
over £4 billion has been collected from settlements of marketed avoidance cases.
We currently win over 90% of avoidance cases taken to litigation by taxpayers, many more
choose to settle before their cases get this far.
If you are not satisfied with this reply you may request a review within two months by
emailing email@example.com, or by writing to the address at the top right-hand side
of this letter.
If you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you can complain to the
Information Commissioner’s Office. The following link explains how to do this:
Tax does have to be taxing.
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