February 2020 News Update – featuring additional news developments from our newsletter series.
Welcome to February 2020 News Update – This month finds HMRC go a little “list” mad with a top ten list of criminal convictions for the last 12 months for tax fraud along with a top ten list of HMRC self-assessment excuses, and HMRC press release outlining self-assessment deadline day by numbers with 11 million submitting on or before the day and 25,000 waiting for the last hour.
HMRC Publish Full List of Top 10 Tax LawBreakers for 2020
HMRC has published a full list of the worst offenders in the last 12 months – fraud investigations that led to over 600 individuals being convicted. Some of these legal cases are massive – from VAT fraud worth £34m to illicit fuel fraud costing the government millions. Read on to see HMRC’s 2019/20 legal successes.
According to HMRC:
“This year’s list once again demonstrates HMRC’s relentless pursuit of tax criminals and shows the lengths some individuals will go to steal money destined to support important public services.
HMRC’s fraud investigations have led to more than 600 individuals being convicted for their part in tax crimes and commenced new criminal investigations into over 610 individuals during the last 12 months.
This year’s biggest criminal cases include:
- Two wealthy professionals who attempted to steal more than £60 million through a fraudulent tax avoidance scheme which claimed to invest in HIV research and conservation, and who were jailed for a total of 14 and a half years.
- A Berkshire-based gang that stole £34 million in VAT and laundered £87 million – the proceeds from selling illicit alcohol through bank accounts in Britain, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Dubai, and other countries – who were jailed for more than 46 years.
- A fugitive £17 million tax fraudster who is finally behind bars after he was tracked down to his Prague hideaway and brought back to the UK to serve his eight-year sentence.
- Five people, including the former owners of a Sussex petrol station, were sentenced for distributing and selling an estimated 4.8 million litres of illicit fuel to unsuspecting motorists including haulage companies across the South East.
- The jailing of a former Top Gear mechanic who helped father and son tax cheats escape from the UK via ferry and Eurotunnel prior to sentencing for a £1 million VAT fraud.
- Payback time for five wealthy tax fraudsters who were involved in one of the UK’s biggest tax frauds.
- An apparently jobless Londoner who enjoyed a sociable lifestyle of golf and exotic holidays by dodging tax on smuggled tobacco and was subsequently jailed.
- A charity treasurer who tried to steal more than £330,000 in a Gift Aid repayment fraud and spent the money on lavish cruise holidays.
- Our work with Interpol to take apart a pan-European crime gang involved in cigarette trafficking, drug smuggling, and money laundering.
As well as successful prosecutions, HMRC issued a record £7.8m fine to a money service business in West London for breaching the money laundering regulations. There was a major seizure in Northern Ireland, worth around £2m in lost duty and taxes, by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (of which HMRC is a part of) targeting the criminal activities of paramilitary organized crime groups.”
HMRC Outline a Decade’s Worth of Brilliant HMRC Excuses
HMRC has decided to publish the best of the decade when it comes to HMRC self-assessment excuses and “questionable expenses claims” – from the bizarre like “my hamster ate my post” to the sublime “my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me.” Read on to see what HMRC won’t accept as excuses.
According to HMRC:
“Every year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) receives some imaginative excuses and expense claims following the 31 January Self Assessment deadline.
To wrap up the decade and with two weeks to the deadline, HMRC has highlighted ten of the weirdest and wonderful responses they’ve received from customers who missed the deadline over the last ten years.
The top ten most bizarre excuses and questionable expenses claims for items, in reverse order, are:
- Caravan rental for the Easter weekend
- I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal
- My dog ate the post … again
- Claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days
- My hamster ate my post
- I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
- A music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
- Pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
- A DJ was too busy with a party lifestyle – spinning the deck….in a bowls club
- My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
All the excuses and expenses listed above were unsuccessful.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:
“Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But, we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire.
“We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.
“If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”
The deadline for sending 2018-19 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2020.”
Nearly 11 Million People Use HMRC Self-Assessment Upload Tools, says HMRC
HMRC is basking in the success of nearly 11 million people on or before deadline day submitting their self-assessments on time. HMRC saw 10.4 million utilise the service for the first time and more than 700,000 on deadline day alone – with 25,000 risking the last hour before midnight to submit their returns.
According to HMRC:
“A record-breaking 11.1 million taxpayers made their contribution to the UK’s public services by hitting the 31 January deadline.
The number filing online soared to more than 10.4 million for the first time ever.
About 11.7 million customers were required to file their 2018/19 tax returns by 11.59 pm on 31 January.
More than 700,000 submitted their tax returns on deadline day, the peak hour for filing was between 4 pm to 4:59 pm when 56,969 filed.
Thousands of customers filed their tax returns at the last minute with 26,562 completing their returns from 11 pm to 11:59 pm on Friday 31 January.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:
“It’s great to see that the majority of customers have submitted and paid their tax returns before 31 January. While few people enjoy the process it’s good to get it out the way and know you have contributed towards our vital public services. I’d like to thank everyone who filed and paid on time, but anyone yet to file or pay should contact HMRC straight away because we are here to help.”
Customers who have missed the deadline should contact HMRC. The department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax return.”