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UK ‘tax gap’ falls to 5.7%

HMRC has confirmed that the tax gap for 2016/17 has fallen to 5.7%.

The ‘tax gap’ is the difference between the tax that should theoretically be paid to HMRC and the actual tax that has been paid. HMRC believes that the tax gap is lower as a result of its work to help taxpayers get things right from the start, and the department’s sustained efforts to tackle evasion and avoidance.

Key findings from the Measuring the Tax Gap publication include:

  • small businesses made up the largest proportion of unpaid tax by taxpayer group at £13.7 billion
  • taxpayer errors and failure to take reasonable care made up £9.2 billion of unpaid taxes by behaviour, while criminal attacks made up £5.4 billion
  • income tax, national insurance contributions and capital gains tax made up the largest proportion of the tax gap by tax type at £7.9 billion for 2016/17; equivalent to 16.4% of self assessment liabilities
  • the VAT gap showed a declining trend over time, falling from 12.5% in 2005/06 to 8.9% in 2016/17

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘These really positive figures show that the tax gap is the lowest in the last 5 years, which reflects the hard work that HMRC and I have been doing to ensure we support businesses to pay the right tax at the right time and clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.Collecting taxes is essential for funding our vital public services such as the NHS – indeed, had the tax gap remained at its 2005/06 level the UK would have lost £71 billion in revenue destined for public services, enough to build 200 hospitals.’

tax gap has fallen to 5.7% for 2016/17

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