HMRC ‘too busy’ to meet £1bn tax evasion target

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HM Revenue & Customs has admitted it will fail to reach its £1bn target to recoup money funnelled offshore to evade paying tax as it is too busy with its existing workload.

The Mail on Sunday reports measures to crack down on tax evaders who divert money to places such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are set to raise just £270m, compared with the £1.05bn the measures were expected to collect.

In its Budget report, the OBR says: “HMRC is less optimistic about how much of the lost yield can be recouped through additional compliance activity, on the basis that they are unlikely to be able to work the higher number of additional cases on top of existing workloads.”

Tax barrister and QC Jolyon Maugham told the newspaper: “The wealthy are escaping the consequences of tax evasion because HMRC cannot pursue the cases. The idea of an amnesty is that you front up now and avoid the bad consequences later. This OBR report reveals that the equation is now: front up now but if you don’t there’s not much we can do.”

An HMRC spokesman says: “We are getting tougher on offshore evasion and using our resources to pursue new and older cases harder than ever. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply ridiculous.”