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The charity TaxWatch tells me that the Department for Work and Pensions prosecutes 23 times more people for benefit fraud (usually small sums) than HMRC prosecutes tax frauds (often vast), a quiet ticking off for wealthy tax cheats, the slammer for often penniless benefit offenders.

Perhaps it’s actually more people doing benefit fraud than tax evasion?

14 thoughts on “Interesting”

  1. The left is constantly telling us that there are “millions of children” living in poverty, so you’d expect a lot more benefit fraud, even if some of it is more avoidancey in nature. FFS, we’re told children will starve to death if the state doesn’t feed them over half term. So of course there’s orders of magnitude more of the stuff.

  2. @rhoda klapp.

    Yes, HMRC’s policy is to go for civil settlements rather than criminal prosecutions. The shambles of such things as Harry Redknapp’s acquittal being one of the reasons why.

    Well, actually, it isn’t so much HMRC’s policy as the government’s. The so-called ‘Hansard Extract’ procedure (not sure if this is still actually followed but it was in my day and the policy is still the same even if the procedure is not). If things got serious, you handed a copy of an extract from Hansard to the taxpayer and solemnity read out loud from your copy:

    ‘In reply to a Parliamentary Question the Chancellor gave the following answer regarding serious tax fraud.

    “The practice of the Board of Inland Revenue in cases of suspected tax fraud is as follows:

    The Board reserves complete discretion to pursue prosecutions in the circumstances it considers appropriate,

    Where serious tax fraud has been committed, the Board may accept a money settlement instead of pursuing a criminal prosecution.

    The Board will accept a money settlement and will not pursue a criminal prosecution, if the taxpayer, in response to being given a copy of this Statement by an authorised officer, makes a full and complete confession of all tax irregularities”’.

    So, come clean and we won’t prosecute. Money in the bag, bish, bash, bosh and on to the next case rather than 2 years down the line losing a court case because the jury likes the guy who is being prosecuted and doesn’t understand or give a toss about tax rules.

    Is this some new evil tory plan to let their mates get away with tax fraud? No. Various chancellors have made the same statement over the years, pretty much unchanged, with the first recorded appearance in Hansard being 19 July 1923.

  3. If someone is committing tax evasion, the money is most likely to be available to get back from the evader, so a deal is an effective solution. Plus HMRC will be crawling all over the evader’s tax arrangements for ever more.

    For benefit fraud, the fraudster has usually spent the money, so prosecution is the only option.

  4. I think it would be very reasonable to treat people stealing money from the government as a more serious crime than people trying to keep their own money. I also wish we could find a way to apply those same principles onto politicians, public sector unions, etc

  5. To quote Eddie Murphy in Trading Places: The best way to hurt rich people is making them poor. It’s also much cheaper to take the money and a fine than to lock people up.

    The problem with the poor is that they own shit. It’s why the BBC still want people locked up for not paying the license fee. Because if it’s made a civil offence, the poor won’t bother paying. They’ll take the risk.

  6. @BoM4. That doesn’t make sense. The BBC want your cash. Any fines go to the government not the BBC. Any non-payers go to prison at taxpayers’ expense and get to watch free TV. I guess taxpayers pay the BBC for that license.

  7. Perhaps it’s actually more people doing benefit fraud than tax evasion?

    That would be the obvious explanation, so Polly can be relied on not to think of it.

  8. The DWP check on .1% of benefit claimants (16,000). This is then used to determine the level of fraud overall within the system.

  9. Aren’t benefits claimants also evading tax as well, doubt they are declaring all their income properly, though I doubt the tax man follows up much on benefit fraud as their is likely no money left to collect as mentioned earlier

  10. @ Ummmm
    Benefits claimants should not be paying income tax! It is insane to demand that someone should be paying tax on an income below the means-testing threshold for benefits.

  11. @ djc
    Rarely enough to lift them above the tax threshold. Failing to declare some casual earnings or that she’s got a live-in boyfriend who can/should contribute to her rent is far more common.

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