According to UK accountancy firm UHY Hacker, which obtained the figures, the Revenue received £268m in the 2010-2011 tax year compared with £440m in the last tax year.
Tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, which was memorably referred to by the UK’s chancellor George Osborne as “morally repugnant”, has been a target of the UK government for the past few years at it seeks to plug holes in its ailing economy in order to address its substantial Budget deficit.
In its most recent Budget in March, the government set out a number of proposals to help address the problem of tax evasion – including a proposal to introduce a general anti-avoidance rule on which a consultation closed last month.
UHY Hacker points out that in 2010, HMRC announced it would be working towards a target of obtaining £7bn in additional revenue by year end 2014-2015, as part of the aforementioned plans to reduce the country’s deficit.
The accountancy firm suggests this pressure is behind HMRC’s more detailed scrutiny of self-assessment forms and said capital gains tax is a particular focus.
“HMRC is trying to raise revenue across the board by undertaking increasingly painstaking investigations,” said Roy Maugham, tax partner at UHY Hacker Young. “They are now pursuing smaller infractions.
“Previously, HMRC resources and manpower were only really used to chase larger amounts of money, but now a forensic approach is being used even for when it is just a modest amount of tax that is missing.”
Maugham added that HMRC is putting “a lot of effort into double checking the amount of capital gains tax that business owners should pay on selling their businesses”, as it knows it is a potentially profitable area.