Al Capone being arrested for tax evasion
It seems I may be in trouble with the Inland Revenue. I received a letter warning me that if I made a mistake like I did again I may be fined. Most of us live in fear of upsetting the taxman, and like a good citizen, I went into a cold sweat and let a wee bum squeaker fly as I am programmed to do on occasions such as these. But I had activated the fear gland too quickly. As I read further I discovered it turns out that I am not a Gary Barlow-esque tax evader, I am a tax over payer. Yes. I did my sums a wee bit wrong (state education, y'see) and I over paid my income tax by around £500 last year. And they are most displeased. I'll say that again- I may be fined if I overpay again.
Nice wee pic of Gary Barlow
Where to even start with this? My fairly measly overpayment not only got noticed, but warranted action to warn me. The HMRC are ON it. Don't believe what the papers say. We just thought that it was the DWP that were looking for every transgression, no matter how small and activating fear glands all over the place. But no- there is no case too small for these Hawkeyes. The place is teeming with Elliot Nesses
Yet I read in the papers that quite a lot of folk seem to get away with not paying their tax. Part of the problem, we are told, is that the amount of people employed to tracking down benefit cheats is much more than those employed to tackle tax avoidance. This is due to the targets that Ian Duncan Smith has set the DWP on tackling those pernicious benefits scroungers who cost us A MASSIVE ECONOMY BUSTING £1.2 billion a year. The man has built his reputation on tackling the housing benefit hording residents of Benefits Street etc. After all, aren't they the scourge of our society sitting around in their beer stained tracksuit bottoms filling out applications to have their family DNA tested on Jeremy Kyle and posting it off with a stamp PAID FOR BY US? The tax avoiders have nicer clothes, don't have fights on daytime telly and seems to be an all round nicer bunch who wouldn't embarrass you at a nice polite family wedding.
But hang on a wee minute, it's possible we're forgetting the statistics of tax evasion versus benefit fraud the UK, so I'll remind you by looking at the 2013/4 numbers. Just 0.7 per cent - or £1.2bn - of total benefit expenditure in 2013/14 was overpaid due to fraud. At the same time £1.5 billion is estimated to not have been paid out to people who are actually entitled to it. Now compare that with tax evasion. HMRC’s most recent estimate of the annual “tax gap” – the money lost to the state through people not paying as much as they should – was £34bn.
I'm not keen on writing about financial things, as like a good citizen who pays her tax, or in this case, overpays her tax, I don't like to upset our imperial masters by being too critical of their agents as they have the right to knock on my door at any point and make my life a bit rubbish if they wanted to. So I ask you not to be too hard on the HMRC and their clearly hugely efficient system of contacting those not declaring their tax properly. One can only assume that if they have the resources and time to contact those OVERPAYING their tax, then they have clearly already finished chasing all those tax cheats and have little else to do but move onto the heinous criminals who have paid too much.
Rest easy, citizens. I expect, given my letter from them that the 20/1015 figures on tax evasion will read somewhat differently than before. You wait and see.
(You may want to read an excellent article on DWP and HMRC facts and figures that Channel 4 news did on the subject HERE after their recent interview with Ian Duncan Smith )
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