Tax cheats and their friends

The Times reports that around 200,000 people have informed on friends, colleagues and family to the taxman in the year since a confidential hotline was set up.

In just over a year, Revenue & Customs received more than 155,000 telephone calls to its tax evasion hotline, 12,083 items of post (including faxes) and 17,952 e-mails. In addition, 3,819 referrals came from the Customs confidential hotline, set up in October 2005.

Revenue & Customs declined to reveal how many prosecutions had resulted from calls taken by the hotline or how much money had been recovered. The Treasury said that it would publish a costs and benefits report on the hotline in due course. No one calling the hotline receives a reward.

The scale of the response emerged after a Freedom of Information question submitted by The Times to Revenue & Customs (HMRC) earlier this year

Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We support legitimate attempts to reduce tax evasion. But it would be helpful if we knew what percentage of these calls were genuinely helpful and what proportion were made maliciously.”

200,000 ‘friends’ inform on tax cheats (The Times, 7 July 2007)