Tax gap falls to 6.5%

The Office for National Statistics has announced that the UK tax gap fell in 2014/15 to its lowest ever level of 6.5%.

The press release confirms that the UK tax gap, the difference between the amount of tax due and the amount collected, is one of the lowest in the world.

HMRC have reduced the tax gap from 8.3% in 2005/06. If the tax gap had remained at the 2005 to 2006 level of 8.3%, it would have grown to £47 billion and the country would have been £11 billion a year poorer.

HMRC believe that the tax gap has fallen, in part, due to digital reporting. In particular Real Time Information reporting for the PAYE system has led to more accurate recording of information on payroll taxes, and the shift to VAT online has helped bring the VAT gap in 2014/15 to its lowest level of 10.3% (£12.7 billion).

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison said:

‘This government is committed to tackling tax evasion and avoidance wherever it occurs.

The UK has one of the lowest tax gaps in the world. By investing £1.8 billion since 2010 in boosting HMRC compliance capabilities, we’ve brought our tax gap down to its lowest ever level. And to make it even easier for people to pay the right tax in the future, we’ve invested £1.3 billion in new digital tools.

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC update phishing guidance

HMRC have updated their guidance to taxpayers on how to spot phishing scam emails.

Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person in order to obtain their personal/financial information such as passwords and credit card or bank account details. These emails often include a link to a bogus website designed to encourage the unwary to enter their personal details.

The HMRC guidance is designed to help taxpayers to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email/text message is phishing/bogus

Internet link: GOV.UK recognising phishing emails

New website to help charities tackle fraud

The Charity Commission for England and Wales, together with members of the Charity Sector Counter Fraud Group, have launched a new website to help charities tackle fraud. The website is designed to provide guidance for trustees, staff and volunteers who want more information on tackling fraud in their charity, and includes guidance, tips and case studies, together with links to other organisations tackling charity fraud.

The new website has been launched to mark the start of Charity Fraud Awareness Week (24-28 October). The campaign reminds charities how to limit their fraud risk and aims to ensure that trustees and charity staff can recognise the warning signs of fraud and offers advice on an effective and proportionate response.

David Kirk, Chairman of the Fraud Advisory Panel, commented:

‘Fraud presents a serious threat to every organisation but unfortunately charities can be particularly vulnerable due to the high number of financial transactions they undertake. Fraud can manifest itself in many different forms and is constantly evolving – which is why we are urging everyone working with charities and not-for-profit organisations to join together and stop fraud against charities. Charity staff and trustees must stay alert to the risks and understand how to manage them.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news

Plans to allow pensioners to sell annuities abandoned

The government has announced that it is shelving plans to allow pensioners to sell their annuities for a lump sum.

Many experts had predicted that those who sold their annuities would be likely to get a poor deal and the government has decided not to take forward the plans to introduce a secondary annuities market because the consumer protections required could undermine the market’s development.

It has become clear that creating the conditions to allow a competitive market to emerge could not be balanced with sufficient consumer protections.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Allowing consumers to sell on their annuity income was always dependent on balancing the creation of an effective market with making sure consumers are properly protected.

It has become clear that we cannot guarantee consumers will get good value for money in a market that is likely to be small and limited.

Pursuing this policy in these circumstances would put consumers at risk – this is something that I am not prepared to do.

The government has always been clear that for the majority of people keeping their annuity incomes will be their best option, estimating that only 5% of people who currently hold an annuity would take advantage of this reform’.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Updated guidance on Gift Aid

HMRC have updated their guidance for charities and community amateur sports clubs (CASC) on claiming Gift Aid on donations.

The guidance has been amended to reflect updated guidance on the retail Gift Aid process operated by charity shops on donated goods.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

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