Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 12th September 2018
Fraud investigations carried out by HMRC brought in a total of £5.47 billion to the Treasury over the course of the most recent tax year.
According to the latest figures, the tax authorities managed to increase by £300 million the amounts of money recouped as a result of targeted fraud investigations.
The figures are for the year to the end of March 2018, with the scale of money brought in via civil investigations having increased by 13 per cent from £2.36 billion to £2.66 billion in the year 2017/18.
Broadly equivalent amounts are recouped by HMRC through civil and criminal fraud cases respectively, with criminal cases bringing in an estimated £2.81 billion last year just as they did during the year 2016/17.
Experts on these issues from the international law firm Pinsent Masons have said that HMRC has “thrown serious weight” behind the efforts of its teams of fraud investigators in recent years.
“It is clear that HMRC is doing more than ever to try to root out tax evasion – including asking for a relaxation on some independent checks on its civil powers,” said Steven Porter from Pinsent Masons.
Mr Porter has also suggested that while the amounts of money brought in by HMRC tax investigators may seem like a lot, “there are those in the Treasury who want more”.
The emphasis on clamping down on tax evasion within government could lead to investigators being granted extra powers to carry out their work with greater precision and effectiveness.
However, legal experts including Mr Porter from Pinsent Masons are concerned that granting HMRC “ever more sweeping powers” could lead to a situation in which they’re able to operate without proper oversight.
At the forefront of HMRC’s efforts aimed at tackling large scale tax evasion in both criminal and civil cases is its Fraud Investigations Service (FIS), which was set up after a process of internal restructuring in 2015.
It is the FIS which is credited with bringing in £5.47 billion in extra tax money to the Treasury during the most recent tax year and £5.17 billion in the previous 12-month period.