Taxman Adopts Tougher Stance On Prosecution And Tax Evasion

It is expected that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, will unveil plans later this week that will see the number of tax files handled by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) increase fivefold to 1,500 a year by 2014-15.

Since the Service’s current tax conviction rate is almost 86 per cent, the fact that it secured 200 convictions in 2010 puts this new set of figures into perspective and should alarm tax consultants who push dishonest advice and the professionals who invest in them, as they are the primary targets.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is adopting a generally tougher stance on tax evasion, as both it and the CPS are trying to curb the practice, which is estimated to cost each household around £533 a year.

The taxman also announced yesterday (January 21st) that it is investigating over £1bn of UK taxes that may have been avoided by multinationals through transferring profits earned in Britain to their parent companies or to lower tax jurisdictions.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request, HMRC revealed that the amount of ‘tax under consideration’ from large businesses, in relation to transfer pricing and thin capitalisation inquiries, was 1 billion pounds at 31 July 2012, up from 680 million at the end of March 2011. This represents a 47 per cent increase in transfer pricing investigations over the last 12 months.

Concerned by these practices, the Liberal Democrats are drawing up plans for new taxes on businesses using such accounting mechanisms and as part of preparations for talks on this year’s Budget, which is due on March 20, they are looking at introducing a minimum UK tax charge on multinational companies.