Exaro, the investigative website, has obtained information that HMRC has paid out in excess of £1 million in “bounty payments” to those willing to grass on tax cheats, since the beginning of the financial crisis. Just under half, nearly £400,000, was handed out by the department last year alone. Compared to the previous financial year the rewards rose by more than a fifth.
Cash for information ranged between £50 – tens of thousands of pounds and was linked to the amount of tax recovered. As reported in The Independent, an HMRC spokesman said, “If we are recovering many millions of pounds in tax, the payment reflects that.”
It is believed that one of the biggest payouts was made in 2008, when it is believed that HMRC rewarded a Liechenstein banker with £100,000 in return for providing the Revenue with a list of secret offshore accounts held by Britons.
Bounty payments over the last few years were as follows:
The rewards are discretionary and are dependent on the quality of the information supplied and the final outcome. They are not based on a fixed percentage of the tax take.
Between 2005 and 2009, HMRC recovered £42 million of unpaid tax as a result of information received from members of the public.
According to HMRC, informants are typically former spouses and employees, ex-business partners, as well as people reporting the bragger in the pub and feuding neighbours.
As the profile of tax evasion but more so avoidance has been elevated by the media, disgruntled citizens maybe more willing to blow the whistle and the increase in reward payments may reflect that mood.