UK uncollected tax rises £2bn in 2017-18

24 Jun 19

Uncollected tax jumped to £35bn in the UK last year but campaigners have warned this figure “vastly underestimates” the scale of tax avoidance. 

Figures from HMRC have revealed an increase of £2bn in uncollected taxes in 2017-18 from the previous financial year – 5.6% of total tax liabilities.

This is a record sum of uncollected tax since data was first recorded in 2005-6. Although, it does represent a fall in uncollected taxes as a percentage of total liabilities over the same period.

Tax Watch – a tax campaign group – warned on Twitter that these figures were neither “reliable or credible” due to the methodology used by HMRC.



The group said that HMRC does not count tax losses to profit shifting from multinational enterprises from organisations like Google and Apple.

George Turner, director of Tax Watch, said: “Once again HMRC has released an estimate of tax avoidance which does not include the billions lost to multinational companies via profit shifting. As a result, HMRC’s  ‘tax gap’ vastly underestimates the scale of the issue, and cannot be considered to be a credible estimate of tax avoidance in the UK.

“The claim that the UK has the lowest tax gap in the world is highly dubious. HMRC themselves said they are the only tax authority in the world to publish an annual estimate of the tax gap that covers a comprehensive range of taxes.”

Turner added that HMRC’s reporting on the tax gap represents their determination to “play down” the importance of tax avoidance.

John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: “The tax gap is another reminder of the scale of tax evasion in this country under a Tory government – and it is likely to be an underestimate since it does not capture much tax avoidance or profit-shifting.

“But the gap is also the product of the government’s savage cuts to HMRC, which have deskilled and undermined a key part of the civil service.”

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