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Prosecutor promises tax convictions

Prosecutor promises tax convictions

Criminal convictions for those who avoid paying taxes in the UK will increase fivefold in the next few years, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Given the situation of a continuing economic crisis and the Government's austerity programme, it is more important than ever to stop the tax dodgers, Keir Starmer QC said. He added that a larger team of officials is now dealing with tax avoidance and tax evasion, thanks to the merger of the Crown Prosecution Service's fraud team and HMRC's prosecutions office.

He told BBC Radio 4:

"It is, of course, always important to prosecute tax evasion but never more so than in this sort of hardship we find ourselves in now. There are people really suffering who are paying their taxes. I think it is important for a prosecution service to respond to public concern, to be seen to be in tune with what ordinary people think ought to happen and to gain the confidence of people that we are prosecuting good cases properly.

"There's a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion and we are concerned here with tax evasion, which includes an element of fraud, of dishonesty. But that having been said, the heart of the ramping-up is not only the increase in volume that's already been referred to but also a demonstrability to prosecute highly complex, dishonest tax avoidance schemes. So, big tax avoidance schemes, if they are dishonest, will be prosecuted.

"We are talking about a five-fold ramping-up over a four-year period, so it is a significant increase intended to make clear that in hard economic times, when law-abiding taxpayers are suffering real hardship, it's important to prosecute these cases."

Joanne Gibbons, Partner in IBB’s Criminal Defence team, which deals with regulatory offences, fraud and tax evasion, comments:

“It is clear that the difficult economic climate, the reduction in incomes and employment and the authorities greater willingness to claw back lost tax revenues will result in greater prosecutions.

“There is evidence that in these times of austerity and recession the opportunity and temptation to commit various types of fraud is on the increase. We have seen increased activity by the HMRC and the CPS in detection work and the pronouncement by the DPP confirms the same.

We have one of the leading teams of criminal law specialists in West London and the South East. If you are facing a serious criminal charge, contact a member of the IBB's Criminal Defence team: call us on 08456 381 381 or email criminaldefence@ibblaw.co.uk.