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Taxation: Tax Evasion Hotline

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In relation to the direct taxes hotline and advertising campaign announced by HM Revenue and Customs on 28 February—(a) what is the total gross cost to date of the hotline and website; (b) what is the estimated additional tax revenue; (c) how many individuals have called the hotline; (d) how many suspected tax evaders have been reported to the website; (e) how many inquiries and full investigations have been initiated as a result of information received through the hotline and website; (f) how many people have been prosecuted as a result of information received through the hotline and website; and (g) when the costs and benefits of the hotline will be reviewed.[HL7270]

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is committed to targeting tax evasion. Its tax evasion hotline was opened on 17 October 2005 taking calls on 0800 788 887 from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday, and 8 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday, as well as receiving information through a variety of other means including a dedicated website, Freepost, Freefax and Textphone. HMRC also operates the Customs Confidential Helpline (0800 59 5000) to receive information about smuggling or any other suspicious activity.

From its launch to 31 August 2006, the tax evasion hotline received approximately 97,000 reports, including 87,047 calls from the public, around 3,000 letters and faxes, 5,200 e-mails and 1,900 referrals from Customs Confidential. Until inquiries have been completed, it is not possible to identify how many of these reports may relate to the same individuals, nor how many may have been received both in writing and by telephone, nor how many relate to tax evaders.

The tax evasion hotline has been developed as part of a package of new compliance measures for the then Inland Revenue announced in Budget 2004 (HC 301), along with the amount of funding and forecast additional revenues. HMRC reports progress on these measures in its annual and spring reports. HMRC also plans to publish a report on the costs and benefits of the tax evasion hotline in the future. The further detailed information requested is not currently available.

The number of full investigations that have been initiated and the number of prosecutions undertaken cannot be disclosed because of the operational sensitivity of information about this law enforcement activity.