“Where’s the deterrent?” by Alex Dunnagan, Acting Director, TaxWatch

The funding of HMRC’s Taxpayer Protection Taskforce raises serious questions about whether it was the best approach to dealing with Covid fraud, writes Alex Dunnagan.

After launching the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to great fanfare, HMRC is set to wind down this team, despite an estimate of at least £3.3bn outstanding as a result of fraud and error in the coronavirus relief schemes.

Even after a downwards revision in the estimated amount of fraud and error, it looks like only 25% of that will be recovered by HMRC, and it seems likely that a significant proportion of the recovery will come from pre-existing teams. In addition, in order to create this team staff have been diverted away from potentially more lucrative compliance work to focus on Taskforce cases.

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