One statistic which will almost certainly anger anyone who has had to pay their share of tax this past month is the number of Britain’s wealthiest under investigation over tax.
A specialist unit has been set up within HMRC which aims to investigate individuals who own assets in excess of £20 million. This wealthy elite currently numbers 6,500 people and the amount of tax which has not been paid amounts to £2 billion, which would make a decent contribution to the nation’s coffers at a time when austerity cuts to public services are beginning to bite.
The National Audit Office is keen to point out that the large sum of underpaid tax is likely to be due to complexities in how individual taxes are calculated and legal interpretation.
The special tax investigation unit appears to be more than paying for itself with £416 million of tax recovered in the 12 months to 2016 compared to less than half that amount in 2011-12.
The reason the specialist unit was set up according to NAO was to investigate wealthy individuals’ tax affairs and demonstrate fairness. The challenge is to go against the common perception of wealthy people not having to pay their fair share of tax.