Middle class tax crackdown as prosecutors vow to take FIVE times more evaders to court


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Middle class tax crackdown as prosecutors vow to take FIVE times more evaders to court Chief prosecutor Keir Starmer is aiming for a fivefold increase in tax evasion cases that go to court
He will warn tax evasion is not a 'victimless crime' and costs every family 769-a-yearHM Revenue and Customs steps up investigations into global firmsLabour warns against taking eye of global firms costing Treasury billions

By
Becky Barrow

PUBLISHED:

12:25 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

01:42 GMT, 22 January 2013

Middle earners who dodge tax will be targeted in a major crackdown by the Crown Prosecution Service.

In a hard-hitting speech tonight, the Director of Public Prosecutions will condemn those who fail to pay their dues – from lawyers to plumbers.

Keir Starmer will say it is a ‘long-standing myth’ that tax evasion – by outright fraud or concealment – is a victimless crime.

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer will promise to 'ramp up' the number of cases against individuals suspected of tax evasion

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer will promise to 'ramp up' the number of cases against individuals suspected of tax evasion

‘Many would be outraged if money was stolen from their personal bank accounts,’ he will add.

‘The latest estimate by HM Revenue and
Customs suggests that tax evasion costs the UK economy 14billion a
year. That is the equivalent of 769 per family.

‘A victimless crime This is money
that could have been spent on schools, hospitals, firefighters, police
and public services,’ Mr Starmer will say. The CPS has decided to
‘radically’ increase the number of tax evasion cases that go to court.

It is aiming for a fivefold increase, bringing the total to around 7,500 a year by 2014/15.

Mr Starmer will say in his speech: ‘Tax evasion has to be dealt with robustly all the time.

Plumbers are among those to be targeted in the tax crackdown (File picture)

Lawyers are among those to be targeted in the tax crackdown (File picture)

Plumbers and lawyers are among those to be targeted in the tax crackdown (File pictures)

‘But in a recession when ordinary
law-abiding taxpayers are suffering real hardship, the need to deter,
detect and prosecute those who evade tax is greater than ever.’

The CPS said those caught can expect
to spend a ‘significant’ amount of time in prison if they commit
large-scale tax evasion, even if it is their first offence. An HMRC
spokesman said: ‘The vast majority of taxpayers are honest and pay what
they have to under the law.

‘They rightly expect us to tackle the
small minority of cheats who deprive the country of vital revenues and
we are using every penny of our additional resources to tackle the
cheats.’

The crackdown comes at a time when
questions are being asked about the ability of global giants such as
Google, Starbucks and Amazon to minimise their contributions thanks to
complex schemes.

Tessa Lorimer, a former Revenue
prosecutor who is now a barrister at GSC Solicitors, said: ‘Middle-
market cases are easier to prosecute and they don’t cost as much.

Mr Starmer will reject the idea of tax evasion being a 'victimless crime' but risks looking like prosecutors are targeting middle earners rather than multi-national firms

Mr Starmer will reject the idea of tax evasion being a 'victimless crime' but risks looking like prosecutors are targeting middle earners rather than multi-national firms

‘They attract a lot of publicity and achieve a lot of deterrence.’

A recent report by the National Audit Office laid bare the ‘staggering’ scale of tax avoidance.

It said this was a matter of ‘using the tax law to get a tax advantage that Parliament never intended’.

The NAO said celebrities, small
businesses and large firms are among those robbing Britain every year of
around 5billion of tax.

n Britain’s largest firms paid taxes
of 77billion last year, equal to 14 per cent of the Government’s total
tax take, according to the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The sum included everything from corporation tax and VAT to national insurance and income tax.