Home >> Tax News >> HMRC Publish Tax Fraud “Most Wanted” on Flickr
Author – Charlotte Lewis Published – 12:00 22 August 2012
HM Revenue and Customs are in high hopes that showcasing the UK’s ‘biggest tax fraudsters’ will allow them to be caught with a helping hand from the average taxpayer.
This is the first time that HMRC has published pictures of tax fraudsters and their crimes. The twenty headshots of tax dodgers have stolen a total of £765 million from the public purse and are thought to either be hiding in the UK, or to have fled abroad, after being charged with tax fraud.
You can view the pictures of the twenty tax fraudsters at HMRC’s Flickr Account.
“The Government is absolutely committed to tackling tax evasion and fraud. These criminals have collectively cost the taxpayer over £765m and HMRC will pursue them relentlessly. We hope that publishing their pictures in this way will enable members of the public to contribute to the effort to catch them,” said David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary.
Ellie Mae O’Hagan wrote in The Guardian on 17 August that “there is a certain irony to the fact that HMRC is capitalising on the wave of popular anger surrounding tax avoidance and evasion. It was, after all, HMRC’s own ineptitude which managed to create that popular anger in the first place.”
Commending HMRC for “getting its priorities straight”, O’Hagan argues that HMRC “could have done so much better” by responding to ‘popular anger’ surrounding tax avoidance; arguing that a “more efficient” use of HMRC’s Flickr account would have been to upload a headshot of Vodafone’s UK CEO, Guy Laurence, for the company’s alleged tax avoidance of £6bn.
“If you’re going to go for the faces of tax avoidance and evasion, why not tackle the real big hitters,” writes O’Hagan.
Acknowledging the distinction between the illegal act of tax evasion and tax fraud by HMRC’s “most wanted”, and the legal act of tax avoidance by businesses and wealthy individuals, O’Hagan feels that HMRC’s publishing of twenty tax fraudsters does not address the issues taxpayers are “actually angry about”: Tax Avoidance.
“The department is willing to act tough when it comes to straightforwardly illegal behaviour by individuals, but refuses to change the structures that allow billions of pounds of tax to slip through our fingers legally.”
Arguing that tax avoidance is now a “widely, deeply felt and persistent issue”, O’Hagan concludes:
“This government better swiftly catch up with the gathering momentum of tax avoidance backlash. I doubt any amount of Flickr sets from HMRC will make it go away.”
Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion accusations are serious.
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