The importance of a well resourced HM Revenue & Customs was emphasised again this week when another large-scale tax evader was brought to well-earned justice. Thomas Scragg received one of the longest sentences ever handed out for tax fraud, 17 years, for a £34 million fraud between 2002 and 2008, featuring (depending on which paper you read) PAYE or VAT fraud or both. Ten other people have also been convicted of offences including conspiracy to defraud HM Revenue & Customs, apparently including accountants and auditors, whom HMRC will quite rightly have taken particular delight in bringing to justice.
It is good to see HMRC bringing to a successful conclusion such a complex and large-scale case, but I do worry about whether ongoing cuts in the department will prejudice its ability to prosecute successfully such matters in future. In the meantime I continue to wonder about the mentality of people who can flout their tax responsibilities on such a scale, presumably expecting (or perhaps that should be hoping) to get away with it. Let us hope this case is a salutary lesson to others who might be tempted down the same path.