Opinion Former Article

PCS: Billions in tax going uncollected warns union

Ahead of today's (24 Nov) pre-budget report, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) highlighted £21.5 billion worth of uncollected tax and £25 billion lost through tax evasion that could be ploughed into public services and stimulating the economy.

Highlighting the figures, the union urged the government to reverse its programme of job cuts in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which will see over 200 offices close and 25,000 jobs go by 2011. The union also warned that further cuts in civil and public services would harm their delivery and the economy at a time when people are relying more and more on public services.

In the tax compliance section of HMRC, over 7,000 jobs have gone in the last three years. A minimum of a further 2,000 are expected to go by 2011. On average, each member of compliance staff has a tax yield of £640,000 after employment costs each year, leading the union to call on the government to increase resources and jobs in tackling uncollected tax and tax evasion.

Highlighting the impact of job cuts on tax yield, the union also pointed to a HMRC local compliance report that calculated whilst cutting 600 staff would save £74 million it would lead to a loss of £204 million in tax.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "In the pre-budget report the government should be looking at tackling the billions lost through tax evasion and uncollected tax by reversing its short sighted cuts programme and by cracking down on tax dodgers. Any attempt to claw back the billions in lost revenue is being undermined by a lack of staff and resources. It makes no sense to cut staff when each member of compliance staff has an average tax yield of £640,000 a year after employment costs.

"In these grim economic times, the lost billions in tax is money that could be ploughed back into public services and into stimulating the economy. Increasing resources in tackling uncollected tax and tax evasion, in addition to closing loopholes, will pay for itself and ensure people pay their fair share."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

* For further information, interviews and comment please contact Alex Flynn PCS national press officer on 020 7801 2820 or 07833 978216.

* PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the union representing civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich.

Alex Flynn
National Press Officer
Public and Commercial Services Union
160 Falcon Rd
London SW11 2LN

Direct line: 020 7801 2747
Mobile: 07833 978 216
Fax: 020 7924 1847

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