HMRC keep restating the tax gap – and that’s dishonesty on their part

Posted on

I thought it worth posting some comparable data on the tax gap.

This is how HMRC is saying today that it has moved over time:

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.51.54


And this is how they say it is made up today:

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.53.39


Note the bottom right figure of £34 billion agrees with the table above.

Now lets look at earlier tables as first published for 2007/08 and 2008/09 (I have these on this blog: HMRC now hide the originals):


So, note that the 2007/08 total was £40 billion and that for 2008/09 was £42 billion.

But now those figures have been restated. Now they are £38 billion and £36 billion respectively, even reversing the trend in the data.

This is supposedly due to changed methodologies. Now I have no problem with improving methodology, we all do that. But to restate and to not make clear the degree to which you have done it is just lying about the state of understanding at the time the work was originally done and that I consider wholly unacceptable - as it is in accounting practice for precisely that reason. But HMRc think they can get away with it.

Candidly, that's just not good enough from an authority where honesty, transparency and consistency are the required standards for conduct.

On this basis today's published data is just a straightforward misrepresentation of the truth. Call it a lie if you like.