Monday, August 16, 2010

What if the taxman asked.....?

On his Tax Research blog Richard Murphy has started a series of questions that he thinks the taxman should be asking. Such questions would, he suggests, root out undeclared earnings and thus help reduce the level of tax evasion by high earners.

He has so far identified two such questions:

#1: Who is paying school fees in cash?

The advantage of asking schools for such information is that the identity of the payment has to be unambiguously associated with a named person and address.

A commentator on Richard's blog suggests that it might be equally worthwhile to ask travel agents who has paid them in cash.

#2: Who is paying private medical fees in cash?
Again Richard notes that the advantage of asking private hospitals is that the identity of the payment has to be unambiguously associated with a named person and address. Such disclosures would not breach medical confidentiality – the detail of the procedure is not the subject of the enquiry.

I tend to agree that such information would provide useful ammunition for HMRC in the fight against tax evasion. Of course the private schools and private hospitals would be constrained from providing the information unless there was a legal obligation to supply it.

This may well be the case using the powers given to HMRC by Schedule 36 FA 2008.



  1. But what about the Data Protection Act and my human rights? Surely HMRC would have to open an enquiry into the private school to get such information. Mind you during enquiries such sort of information would be passed to Risk teams from their Investigators if they were doing their job right - So maybe schools and accountants could be the next targets for "who paid you in cash?" questions

  2. Would not receiving such sums in cash take them into money laundering reporting ?

  3. Interesting article along these lines in the FT today (p3: The Bradford Conundrum). SOCA worked with HMRC, the Police and the Borders Agency to target businesses that could have been laundering money, including high-value motor dealers. There have been 16 convictions so far.