To ask His Majesty's Government how many criminal prosecutions for tax offences have been undertaken by HMRC each year since 2010 up until the last year for which records are available.
4 January 2023
The information provided above shows the number of prosecutions resulting from HMRC criminal investigations since the start of the 2011/2012 financial year - when the Department’s assured data begins.
However, HMRC is not a prosecuting authority. Cases are prepared to the highest evidential standard and passed to the relevant prosecuting authority, who decide if a case progresses to court.
HMRC is therefore reliant on the prosecuting authorities and the criminal justice system to progress cases to conclusion. This is a lengthy process and outcomes achieved in any given year are not necessarily reflective of HMRC’s activity in the same period.
The number of prosecutions has fallen over the last three years. There are a number of contributing factors here, including ongoing delays within the courts system due to the pandemic, and HMRC’s strategic choice to focus on harder-to-reach targets and tackle the most serious frauds.
Prosecutions represent one element of a wide-ranging HMRC response to tax fraud, which also includes civil investigations and sanctions, data and intelligence analysis, risk detection and profiling, education, legislative change, partnering with the public and private sectors, and target-hardening of our systems and processes.
In practice, the Department focusses interventions where they have most impact, an approach which is about reaching the right outcome for the UK, rather than chasing arbitrary targets for arrests and prosecutions.
Most of HMRC’s work to tackle tax fraud makes use of civil powers because these are the most proportionate, economical and effective way to recover monies owed and tackle fraud; as such, criminal investigations are focused on cases which meet certain criteria to ensure they deliver both value for money for the taxpayer and the maximum impact on tax fraud.