Hundreds of people have been prosecuted for tax evasion in the last two years

10 March 2023
What was claimed

Only eight cases of tax evasion have been prosecuted in the past two years.

Our verdict

False. This figure refers to prosecutions for the enabling of tax evasion. HMRC says around 400 people have been prosecuted for tax evasion in the last two years.

Under the Tories, prosecutions for tax evasion have dropped by 80%. Only EIGHT cases were prosecuted in the past two years.

Labour MP Imran Hussain, who also serves as the shadow minister for employment rights, has corrected himself after posting a tweet in which he wrongly claimed that only eight cases of tax evasion have been prosecuted in the last two years. 

His original post, which has since been deleted, was viewed hundreds of times before being taken down after Full Fact informed Mr Hussain of his error. 

The figure of eight prosecutions—four from each year—emerged after the Financial Times submitted a Freedom of Information request to His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), but refers only to prosecutions for the enabling of tax evasion. These are cases in which lawyers, accountants or other financial institutions are charged with assisting their clients in carrying out tax fraud. 

It is correct that the number of prosecutions for this kind of crime has fallen by about 80%. There were 14 prosecutions in 2019-20 and 29 in 2018-19, according to figures supplied by HMRC. Eight prosecutions in the latest two-year period is about 81% less than the 43 in the two-year period before.

However HMRC told Full Fact that in the past two years there have been a total of 399 tax evasion prosecutions, a figure also given in a written answer to a parliamentary question about criminal prosecutions for tax offences which was published on 4 January. This total also represents a substantial fall compared with the previous two years, when there were 1,440.

HMRC says the pandemic affected its work, and that it focuses on the most harmful cases rather than chasing targets. A spokesperson said: “Tackling enablers of tax fraud remains a top priority for us. We currently have more than 100 enablers under investigation and we’re determined they face the consequences as much as those carrying out tax fraud.

“We’ve always been clear that we focus criminal investigations on cases where the behaviour is particularly severe, where civil sanctions alone won’t work, and where criminal prosecution will be a strong deterrent to others.”

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Claim corrected

We contacted Mr Hussain about his tweet. He thanked us for bringing the error to his attention and said that he had deleted his original post, replacing it with a new version. He added: “The tweet has now been posted with an amendment which clarifies that this relates to the enablers of tax evasion.”

MPs should correct false or misleading claims made in their capacity as public representatives. 

If an MP makes a false or misleading claim on social media, they should correct this quickly on the same platform where the claim was made. We are grateful that Mr Hussain has done so in this case. 

We took a stand for good information.

As detailed in our fact check, Imran Hussain deleted his original tweet, replacing it with a new version.

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