Prime Minister and HMRC to battle tax avoidance and publicise fraud

Newly appointed Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered officials in the Government’s “policy unit” to draw up additional plans to crackdown on offshore tax havens and corporate tax avoidance.

The news comes just days after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced that it would explore new methods of publicising the outcomes of fraud investigations, in a bid to build public confidence that it is effectively tackling “wealthy tax evaders”.

Following the recent BHS collapse, The Prime Minister intends to battle both personal and corporate tax avoidance; most likely of the sort practised by Sir Philip Green and his family, The Daily Mail has reported.

While in the wake of the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks scandals, HMRC, which has already tightened its focus on corporate tax evasion in recent years, has said that it wishes to dispel the ‘myth’ that “people are getting away with tax evasion” by exploring new means of publicising investigation outcomes.

At current, HMRC tackles such activities by levying large penalties and initiating civil fraud investigations. However, the tax authority typically reserves its criminal investigations for a very small and specific number of cases – the outcomes of which do not always make their way into public reach.

Under new proposals, HMRC will explore tougher methods for tackling the ongoing issue and publicising the outcomes of its investigations.

According to Government statistics, 1,288 people were charged in 2014/15 as a result of HMRC criminal investigations. More than 40 per cent of convictions involved people evading £50,000 or more, it has been reported.