In an attempt to turn ‘children into state spies’, it seems that HMRC has turned to futuristic tactics reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, to tackle the problem of tax evasion.
HMRC targeting schoolchildren as tax evasion spiesFollowing the announcement from the Treasury Minister, David Gauke, that cash in hand payments to tradesmen, with the attention of avoiding tax, is ‘morally wrong’. HMRC has released teaching modules to guide school children through National Insurance contributions and Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
The modules will teach children about ‘paying their fair share of tax’ through games, facts and quizzes and can be downloaded from HMRC’s website; Some modules are aimed at school children as young as eleven years old.
A spokesperson for HMRC rejected any claims that the Revenue are targeting school children as spies:
“HMRC has been providing basic information for many years to teachers to use when teaching financial education in classrooms. We certainly don’t use this to collect information on tax evaders from children. These materials are solely designed to help children to learn about how tax works in Britain.”
£1m rewards for tax evasion bounty hunters
Also in The Telegraph this week, it has been announced that more than £1m pounds has been paid to tax evasion whistleblowers who have disclosed information to HMRC on people evading tax.
Investigative website, Exaro News, released figures that show HMRC has paid more than £1m pounds over the last three financial years, to people informing them of tax payers who aren’t paying their fair share of tax.Tax Evasion Bounty Hunters
Tax evasion rewards issued by HMRC range anywhere from £50 to £1,000, depending how much tax is reclaimed on the information that has been provided. In the past year The Telegraph reports that rewards to tax evasion informants’ has raised by a fifth to £374,000, after £309,620 was paid out in the 2010/2011 tax year.
Although some top tax officials at HM Revenue and Customs deny rewards are paid to tax evasion informants, a spokesperson from HMRC said that tax evasion rewards are paid at HMRC’s discretion and are dependent on: “the value of the information and the quality of the result.”
“We would expect individuals to think first about the wrongdoing rather than about how much they might make,” they added.
The top tax evasion informants, according to the HMRC spokesperson, include former employees, ex-partners, former business partners and people overhearing bragging rights down the local pub. Generally kept confidential, a tax evasion informant’s identity is sometimes required to be disclosed in certain legal proceedings.
HMRC are yet to release recent figures on the amounts of unpaid tax collected from tax evasion tip-offs.
Kevin Kinsella Jnr Snr of KinsellaTax UK, said:
“This is a disgrace if true. Remember Mao Red China when children were indoctrinated to dig the dirt on their families. It became the norm and thousands of lives were damaged forever.
“How old are the people who put forward these ideas? They need re-educating. God I shiver when I think how some of these people are thinking.”
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