700 tax cheats caught by HMRC

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Almost 700 tax fraudsters and benefit cheats were convicted in the last year as part of the government’s clampdown on tax evasion say Harris & Co accountants Northampton.

HMRC investigations led to 690 successful convictions – up from 477 in 2012, and the highest since 2010. These convictions led to sentences totalling 355 years in prison.

The investigations covered everything from complex VAT, income tax and benefit frauds to smuggling cases.

In 2010, the government’s Spending Review gave HMRC a target to achieve 1,000 prosecutions a year by 2015, which the tax authority claims it is on target to reach despite job cuts across the organisation.

Donald Toon, director for criminal investigations at HMRC, said: ‘These convictions send a clear message that tax fraud will not be ignored and tax fraudsters should be very concerned. We are well on track to achieving our spending review commitment to increase the annual number of prosecutions to over 1,000 by 2014 to 2015.’

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said: ‘We have invested nearly £1bn in HMRC to tackle those who fail to play by the rules, and today’s figures clearly demonstrate that investment is paying off.’

If you want to be reminded of the worst offenders, go to HMRC’s Flickr gallery HMRC

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