April 21, 2013 5:33 pm

Prosecutions for tax fraud soar

The number of individuals prosecuted for tax fraud soared by 53 per cent last year as the government took a more aggressive stance on tax compliance, according to an international law firm.

But the number of cases remained relatively small, with 240 prosecutions in 2011-12 compared with 157 in 2010-11, Pinsent Masons said.

The increase follows the government’s decision – announced by George Osborne, the chancellor, in the 2010 Budget – to give HM Revenue & Customs more funding. HMRC was granted £900m to use for tax avoidance and tax evasion work.

Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the number of arrests for tax fraud rose by 44 per cent, from 105 to 151. However, the increase in the past year was just 7 per cent, up from 141 in 2010-11.

Convictions have increased by 4 per cent, rising from 148 in 2010-11 to 154 last year.

“HMRC has adopted a very aggressive stance towards investigating individuals suspected of tax fraud,” Jason Collins, the head of tax at Pinsent Masons, said.

“It is much more willing to opt for the criminal – as opposed to civil – investigative weapons in its arsenal. Arrests, prosecutions and property searches have all leapt since 2010,” he added.

Ferdinando Giugliano

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