Tax investigations reap in £13 billion for the treasury

The latest official data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shows that the actual cash collected from all tax investigations hit £13 billion in 2018/19.

This was up 27 per cent from the previous tax year in which £10.3 billion was collected. The data also showed that transfer pricing fines for multinationals have risen to £413,000.

The greater yield from tax investigations seems to have been driven in part due to payments HMRC has received ahead of the loan charge being introduced in April 2019.

A considerable amount was also recovered as a result of HMRC’s offshore tax campaign last year.

In addition, technology is playing a greater role in investigations, as HMRC has become more successful at identifying cases for investigation that are likely to result in large amounts of extra tax being collected.

Despite the headline figure, the bulk of this increase is made up of hypothetical estimates, such as ‘revenue losses prevented’ and ‘future revenue benefit’.

Meanwhile, HMRC’s crackdown on aggressive use of transfer pricing has seen the fines imposed on multinational businesses increase tenfold, indicating that the new country-by-country reporting (CBCR) rules are having an impact on compliance.

In 2018/19 HMRC imposed £413,437 in fines, compared to just £45,600 in 2015/16. The clampdown on these irregularities has also helped the tax authority to secure an additional £6.5 billion of tax in the years between 2012/13 and 2017/18.

Link: HMRC annual report and accounts: 2018 to 2019

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