HMRC Names Tax Dodgers
Small businesses and individuals who avoid paying their taxes are being publicly named in a new move by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The tax dodgers are named on a list which shows "deliberate tax defaulters".
Those named on the HMRC defaulters list were found to have either made deliberate mistakes on their tax returns or have actively failed to comply with their tax obligations.
The list includes those who have been subject to an HMRC investigation, have been charged one or more penalties for deliberate defaults and who owe taxes in excess of £25,000
Defaulters do have the opportunity to stay off the list if they fully disclose the details of their defaults.
Some of those named and shamed include a coach operator and a wine trader.
However, the move to deliberately embarrass smaller businesses has not been totally welcomed.
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) have stated that, whilst they believe that small firms should pay the taxes they owe, they do not condone the manner in which HMRC are going about it. Robert Downes, spokesman for the FPB said:
"Every company has a moral responsibility to pay what’s owed. Not a penny more, not a penny less. That’s just fair, and most right thinking people would go a long with this."
"But for HMRC to go after small business over what is frankly small potatoes, is just inexcusable when big business have been, and still are, getting away with multi-billion tax scams. It’s wrong, it’s not right, so just what are HMRC thinking? In fact, what was the Government thinking by allowing this to happen?"
The tax owed by the nine offenders mentioned on the HMRC list amounts to less than £1million.
On the other hand, big business in the UK has been accused of aggressive tax avoidance to the tune of £5billion, a figure not unfamiliar to Prime Minister David Cameron, who on a a visit to India this week, raised the subject of cracking down on multinationals who minimise their tax obligations.
Starbucks, the American coffee chain, has been reported as paying just £8.6million in corporation tax in the UK in 14 years of trading over here. Through a complex scheme of offshore accounts the coffee giant has apparently paid zero tax in the past three years and this is despite a turnover of around £400million in 2011.
Summing up their opinion of HMRC’s latest crusade, Robert Downes of the FPB finished by saying:
"HMRC should be doing a whole lot more to expose the big bad businesses out there who still persist in not paying their way and shirking their responsibilities. Not focusing on plumbers and hairdressers."
HMRC’s official report can be seen at Publishing deliberate tax defaulters.