HMRC’s tax evasion hotline received almost 90,000 calls in the last year, an increase of 24% from the previous year. Bloomsbury Professional estimates the hotline handles an average of 350 calls a day.
Unsurprisingly, the great majority of “tip-offs” come from spurned lovers and from disgruntled employees. Upset neighbours are also in the mix together with a sprinkling of simple old-fashioned jealousy. HMRC’s guidance to Inspectors always used to warn that such “tip-offs” should be treated with some caution: with masterful understatement Inspectors were reminded that “informers seldom act from the purest of motives”.
Bitter divorces were also rich pickings, though a clearer case of face-spiting rhinectomy is difficult to imagine: inviting HMRC to mount a raid on the marital assets inevitably reduces the assets to be divided up between the warring spouses. Still, “hell hath no fury” and all that (which, interestingly, is a misquotation: the lines are actually “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” Though in our experience scorned men can rank pretty high in the fury stakes too.)
Tip offs are not always what they seem to be. I particularly remember from my Revenue days a tip-off that complained that the taxpayer had been boasting in the pub about the many benefits which he was putting through his company: closer investigation revealed that he was indeed: but every single thing mentioned was duly reflected on the P11D and tax paid on it. Boasting in the pub about evading tax is never sensible: boasting in the pub about evading tax you haven’t actually evaded is just silly.