According to the summary of a report of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that was published just over a year ago on 4th April 2016 “HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is not doing enough to tackle tax fraud, which accounts for at least £16 billion of uncollected tax each year. HMRC has made only limited progress in reducing the level of tax fraud losses which has remained relatively constant over the last 5 years, at around 3% of all tax liabilities. HMRC’s strategy for tackling tax fraud is unclear, particularly its approach to prosecutions where it does not know the number needed to provide an effective deterrent. The failure to prosecute more than one individual from the Falciani list, HMRC having closed this case and the Financial Conduct Authority no longer taking further action, creates the impression that the rich can get away with tax fraud. HMRC also needs to explain why the amount of tax it claims to have recovered from its compliance work rises sharply each year, but the size of the tax gap (the difference between the amount of tax that it collects and how much it should, in theory, collect) stays the same.” In the light of this damning report which I have only just seen, it would seem perfectly reasonable to ask two questions:
What impact will this report and the issue on which the report was based, have on the manifestos of the large political parties and more importantly on what the next Government will subsequently do when in office?
What sort of outcome would encourage more people to disclose such information in a way that would ensure that laws are kept and all people are treated equally by our Governments.
Hervé Daniel Marcel Falciani, the Franco-Italian systems engineer and whistleblower whose name was given to the list was responsible for what has been described as “the biggest banking leak in history.” In his abscence he was sentenced to 5 years in jail by the Swiss Court that prosecuted him for revealing the information which is clearly a breach of trust. However the reason for this breach was evident from a French parliamentary report had found that of 2,325 French taxpayers with accounts at HSBC in Switzerland, just three had their affairs in order. This suggests that the number of prosecutions in the UK should have been a lot greater than the one solitary case referred to above.