HMRC names and shames tax cheats


taxHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published the names of deliberate tax defaulters on its website for the first time.

So who has been 'named and shamed' and why?

What is a deliberate tax defaulter?

According to the taxman, a deliberate defaulter is a person who incurs a penalty for one of the following reasons:

  • an inaccuracy in a return or document for a tax period beginning on or after 1st April 2010;
  • a failure to comply with certain obligations, such as notifying HMRC of a liability to tax;
  • a VAT or excise wrongdoing, occurring on or after 1st April 2010.

Can HMRC do this?

The taxman was given the power to expose tax defaulters in the Finance Act 2009, to help it combat tax evasion and non-compliance.

They can be named in this way so long as all of the following are met:

  • the taxpayer is liable to a penalty for deliberate default;
  • without HMRC's intervention, that deliberate default would have cost more than £25,000 in lost tax revenues; and
  • the taxpayer failed to make a full disclosure to HMRC at the outset, meaning they failed to receive the maximum reduction in penalties for full and early disclosure and assistance.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, explained: "The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures people who pay their taxes – the vast majority – that there are consequences for those who refuse to tell HMRC about their full liability.

"It also encourages defaulters to make a full and prompt disclosure and co-operate with HMRC to avoid being named."

Details of the first batch of deliberate defaulters that have been exposed by HMRC can be found on the defaulters' section of its website. The list will be updated each quarter. Names can only be published for 12 months and once all appeal routes against the related tax and penalties have been exhausted.

What do you think? Is this a sensible way to expose tax cheats? Will it make people less likely to try to escape paying their fair share? Let us know your thoughts in the Comment box below.

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