HM Revenue & Customs is increasingly turning to the use of informers, including former spouses, to increase tax revenue, according to UK-based law firm RPC.
Reynolds Porter Chamberlain said the amount HMRC has paid out to informers increased by 21% over the past tax year to 5 April, with total payments reaching £373,780 compared with the £309,620 in the previous tax year.
Adam Craggs, tax partner at RPC, said: “HMRC are under intense pressure from the Treasury to increase the tax yield for the Exchequer and they are increasingly resorting to unorthodox methods to get the job done, such as paying informers for tips that may lead to the opening of enquiries into the tax affairs of the individuals concerned.”
According to RPC, HMRC’s ‘high net worth unit’ which targets individuals with wealth exceeding £20m and its ‘affluence unit’, which targets individuals with a net worth of at least £1m, may pay informers for information on those individuals who they suspect of having not complied fully with their tax obligations.
Shockingly, Craggs suggest that the typical HMRC informant will be an “angry spouse”.
“If the divorce is particularly acrimonious, it is not uncommon for a spouse to turn HMRC informant,” said Graggs. “For the spouse, threatening to supply information to HMRC provides them with some leverage during divorce settlement negotiations.”