It’s self-assessment time again and although millions of taxpayers are honest and diligent in filing their returns, some are tempted to see what they can get away with not declaring or just cannot be bothered to submit a return on time.
To help persuade anyone considering tax avoidance, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published the results of several campaigns that have offered discount penalties for taxpayers volunteering they have failed to declare the right amount of tax in the past.
The aim of the campaigns is to target groups of taxpayers who have traditionally failed to keep up with their tax.
The campaign is designed to bring their financial affairs up-to-date and to keep them that way.
“We do this by offering incentives for taxpayers to come forward and self-correct their tax affairs,” said an HMRC spokesman.
“It’s in everyone’s interests for this to happen and we use anything we learn to improve our processes.
“For those who choose not to take the chance to set the record straight, we use the information gathered during the campaign to conduct follow-up work. This includes investigations and prosecutions.”
For taxpayers worried they have wrongly declared their financial affairs to HMRC, the question is how likely is it that they will get caught?
The official figures show since 2007, HMRC has collected almost £1 billion in tax from campaign volunteers and follow-up investigations.
Several criminal inquiries are underway, with eight convictions to date involving jail terms totalling more than 10 years.
To make a disclosure, taxpayers should contact the Campaigns Voluntary Disclosure Helpline on 0845 601 5041 between 8 am and 6.30 pm Monday to Friday.
HMRC Tax Avoidance Campaigns – Revenue Collected by October 31, 2014
|HMRC Tax Avoidance Campaigns - Revenue Collected by October 31, 2014|
|Tax Health Plan||£69,323,173|
|Tax Catch Up Plan||£2,948,256|
|Value Added Tax Outstanding Returns||£37,812,885|
|Plumbers Tax Safe Plan||£22,166,777|
|Electricians Tax Safe Plan||£15,747,864|
|Tax Returns Initiative||£86,163,464|
|My Tax Return Catch Up||£32,502,644|
|Offshore Disclosure Facility||£512,190,000|
|Offshore New Disclosure Opportunity||£156,923,070|
|Campaigns Consequential Disclosures*||£5,116,343|
|Health Well Being Tax Plan||£809,505|
|* These disclosures are from individuals not targeted by any campaign who have voluntarily come forward and used the campaigns disclosure line to tell us about undeclared income|
* These disclosures are from individuals not targeted by any campaign who have voluntarily come forward and used the campaigns disclosure line to tell HMRC about undeclared income