Are you a “soft target”?

softtargetFrom The Telegraph :

“(…) HM Revenue & Customs made inquiries about the tax affairs of 237,215 people last year, compared with about 119,000 in 2011-12, figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph show.

The number of self-employed people investigated has quadrupled in that time while annual prosecutions have risen sevenfold in three years.
The figures are evidence of the attempts HMRC is taking to minimise the estimated £35 billion of tax lost every year.
Experts have warned that people who have made simple errors when filling out self-assessment tax returns are “an easy target” for HMRC.

Tax experts warned that “soft targets”, middle-class professionals such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, were being targeted. They were more likely to settle any claims without dispute because they felt “anxious” when HMRC sent warning letters.

A Tory MP on the Commons Treasury select committee said last night that HMRC had been “given a mandate to aggressively go about trying to collect tax” and accused it of “nit-picking”. (…)

Comment from Dotas Scandal Team:

To put things in perspective, here are HMRC’s own figures on what makes up that “35bn estimated loss of tax.

5.4bn Hidden Economy (criminal activity)
5.1bn Evasion (a criminal act)
4.7bn Criminal Attacks (obviously criminal)
4.4bn Non Payment (tax written off due to insolvency etc)
4.3bn Failure to take reasonable care (mostly inadvertent under-declaration)
4.3bn Legal Interpretation (a legal dispute between HMRC and the customer over the interpretation of tax legislation)
4.0bn Avoidance (operation within the law but not achieving what the government intended)
2.9bn Errors (Mainly theirs)

And the “estimation” again by classification of groups causing that tax gap:

16.7bn Small and medium sized businesses
8.8bn Large Business
4.7bn Criminals
4.7bn Individuals

And all these figures include VAT, a major source of revenue.

So of the total amount of roughly 35bn:

15.2bn requires establishing criminal activity.
4.4bn cannot be recovered largely because of insolvency
4.3bn requires legal clarification.
4.0bn is completely legal
2.9bn is mainly their fault

And the remaining 4.3bn is the “Failure to take reasonable care”.

Assuming that is split in the same proportions as the overall classification estimates, non criminal individuals will account for roughly 577m.

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