Tax evasion, and what Westminster doesn’t quite grasp by Andrew Park

Andrew Park laments HMRC’s increasing use of data rather than trained staff to recoup unpaid tax, and MPs’ lack of understanding of the issue.

The politicians have had a lot to say about HMRC’s tax compliance work of late, much of it highly critical. Westminster has woken up to the extent to which HMRC diverted staff away from investigation work during Covid-19, general productivity plummeted and far less investigation and enforcement work got done.

In May of this year, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (Accounts Committee) made public its report on ‘Managing tax compliance following the pandemic’. This was informed in large part by a National Audit Office (NAO) report of the same title published last December, as well as evidence taken by the Accounts Committee directly from HMRC. Previously, in October last year, a separate group of MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax had already attempted to up the ante by jointly publishing their own report in conjunction with lobby organisation TaxWatch on ‘Putting a stop to the tax fraud game’.

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