HMRC crackdown puts tax fraudsters in prison longer

HMRC crackdown puts tax fraudsters in prison longer

Tax fraudsters face longer in prison following a crackdown by HMRC, according to analysis by international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The average sentence length for tax fraud has rocketed by 25 per cent to more than four years. The company said that this was due to HMRC hardening its stance against tax evasion.  

Pinsent Masons also reported that the average sentence length for tax fraud may be driven even higher by more successful prosecutions, especially once the strict liability offence for offshore tax evasion comes into force in Autumn 2018. 

Commenting on the current legal approach to addressing tax evasion, Olga Tocewicz, senior associate at Pinsent Masons, said: “HMRC is pushing hard for longer sentences as it clamps down on tax evasion.

"Even in cases where the prosecution secures a conviction, it may still appeal if it thinks the sentence is not tough enough.”

She added: “HMRC has come under growing political pressure in recent years to prove to the public that it has a workable strategy in place to stamp out evasion. As a result, it has become more dogged in its approach to sentencing.

“Both individuals and businesses are facing stringent additional new laws for offshore tax evasion later this year, and should anyone be caught out by these rules, they may face an even lengthier sentence.”

Adviser Mel Kenny of Radcliffe & Newlands in London said: “It sounds like HMRC is seeking headlines, not just to make potential fraudsters think twice, but also to be seen to be responding to growing public anger on the issue.”