HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published a list of names and addresses of deliberate tax defaulters on its website for the first time, as part of its plan to combat tax evasion.
The list, which includes nine individuals, has been criticised for concentrating on small businesses and individuals who owe just £1.45m in unpaid tax and fines. Chaman Lal, owner of Gatemain Contractors in Rochester, was also included in the list.
Welcoming the move, Margaret Hodge, who chairs the House of Commons public accounts committee, said: “What people are angry about is big corporations which have aggressively avoided tax. That’s where the big bucks are. I think HMRC needs to go further in that respect.”
Hodge urged the tax authorities should consider “naming and shaming” tax dodgers, but said it was striking that it dealt only with small companies.
Phil Berwick, a director at law firm Pinsent Masons told the Financial Times (FT): “HMRC has chosen to shame people at the lower end of the tax evasion spectrum because they think there are a lot of people in a similar financial position who are not paying tax and they want to flush those people out.
“The list includes a wide range of trades and people based all over the country. HMRC wants people to look at the list and think ‘it could be me’ and come forward of their own accord.”
Ronnie Ludwig, a partner in accountancy firm Saffery Champness, told the FT: “There are many companies and individuals earning a lot more money than these people. The question we need to ask is whether the Revenue is operating a level playing field.
“Someone with a ‘million-pound problem’ is likely to take specialist advice and will be advised to make a disclosure to avoid being publicly named and shamed.”
Treasury minister David Gauke said: “The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures people who pay their taxes – the vast majority – that there are consequences for those who refuse to tell HMRC about their full liability.”
HMRC will closely watch financial affairs of tax evaders for up to five years to ensure they do not reoffend as part of its scheme.