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HMRC 'made up' record £24bn tax haul

A “RECORD” £24 billion tax haul has been slammed by the Tax Justice Network (TJN) as “made up.”

In a bulletin yesterday HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced £23.9bn in revenue from “compliance activities” — anti-tax-dodging work — in what Tory Treasury Secretary David Gauke described as a “clear signal” to taxpayers.

But TJN expert account Richard Murphy suggested that HMRC had based its figures on a watchdog’s estimate.

The department’s spin doctors had cited a datasheet entitled “HMRC fast facts: Record revenues for the UK.”

But the document features fewer fast facts and more fast talk. The Star was unable to find an explanation of how HMRC officials arrived at the figure of £23.9bn.

A single graph comparing “compliance” takings over time came with the rider that it was based on “evidence of the impact of compliance work … see HMRC Annual Report for full details.”

The department’s annual report has yet to be published, meanwhile the Morning Star’s repeated requests for clarification went unanswered.

Instead the HMRC bulletin repeatedly emphasised the passage of various laws since 2010 that have closed tax loopholes.

This inclusion led Mr Murphy to believe HMRC may have based its figures on an estimate for tax fraud prevented made by people observing the new laws.

Mr Murphy said he supported real victories against tax dodgers, but had no time for headline figures that were “simply made up.”

Government departments could not take credit for parliamentary legislation, he said, while it was “nigh on impossible” to estimate the impacts of new legislation.

“They might be used to justify cuts. But the truth is that they don’t collect tax. Only people on the ground do that and they are having their jobs cut,” he said.

The department has seen roughly one in three jobs cut since 2008, with public-sector union PCS warning that the department is now too understaffed to police tax revenue properly.

The union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka said the compliance figures remained “a drop in the ocean compared to the overall tax gap,” estimated at up to £160bn a year.

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