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The number of civil investigations into alleged tax fraud has fallen by more than a half, data has shown.

The number of investigations into wealthy, offshore and corporate taxpayers fell from 1,417 in 2018/19 to just 627 in 2022/23. According to HMRC, its fraud investigation units focus on the ‘highest value’ tax fraud.

It stressed that the number of investigations into wealthy, offshore and corporate taxpayers does not take into account overall compliance activity, which saw 300,000 investigations started in 2022/23.

Robert Palmer, Executive Director at Tax Justice UK, commented: ‘We know HMRC is underfunded and resources have been diverted for work on Covid and Brexit.

‘Parliamentary research shows that when the government invests in HMRC, the return on investment is significant. Until the department is properly funded, vast sums of money owed, often by the richest people and companies, will go unrecovered.’

A spokesperson for HMRC said: ‘These specific figures relate solely to the work of our fraud investigation service and do not take account of our overall compliance activity. In 2022/23, we opened 300,000 compliance interventions across a range of tax risks, including avoidance and evasion, and secured ?34 billion in additional tax revenue.’

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McBrides Chartered Accountants