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Treasury ‘missing out on £16bn in unpaid tax’


HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Companies House have failed to collect around £16 billion in taxes after thousands of firms ‘disappeared’ from their radar, a new report has claimed.


According to a study by Tax Research UK, 500,000 companies were dissolved in the year to March 2010 and, in most cases, these firms were removed from the official register because they did not file their accounts.


However, the report found that the authorities did not pursue directors for the missing accounts and unpaid tax, which is thought to be the equivalent of nearly six months corporation tax.


It also warned that the UK is now becoming a haven for those seeking to hide their identity behind a company, with the situation likely to deteriorate as budget and staffing cuts pile further pressure on government bodies.


Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research and author of the report, said: ‘This report catalogues extraordinary failures in regulation by both Companies House and HMRC.


‘It lays no blame on anyone at those organisations for these failures: it is clear that they do not have the resources they need in terms of staffing to undertake the duties demanded of them by parliament.’


‘The consequences of these failures are enormous,’ he added. ‘It is inevitable that significant amounts of tax are being lost to the exchequer. In the meantime companies trading fraudulently undermine honest business in the UK and consumers are bound to be the subject of fraud by unscrupulous traders who will never account for their actions.’