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Number of tax convictions rises in 2013

A total of 690 tax fraudsters and benefit cheats were convicted in the UK during 2013.

Figures from HM Revenue and Customs show the number of conviction for tax avoidance is up by 44 per cent from 477 in 2012 and the highest since the 2010 Spending Review.

Cumulatively, a total of 355 years in prison were handed down in sentencing.

The largest investigations of the year involved a £26m tobacco fraud, a £5m wine duty fraud, a £2.3m VAT fraud and a £2m identity fraud.

Exchequer secretary to the Treasurer David Gauke says: “The Government is determined to make sure people pay the tax they owe and HMRC will come down hard on those who try to cheat the system. Honest taxpayers will be pleased that these fraudsters are now paying for their crimes.

“We have invested nearly £1bn in HMRC to tackle those who fail to play by the rules, and today’s figures clearly demonstrate that investment is paying off.”

HMRC director for criminal investigations Donald Toon says: “These convictions send a clear message that tax fraud will not be ignored and tax fraudsters should be very concerned.  We are well on track to achieving our spending review commitment to increase the annual number of prosecutions to over 1,000 by 2014/15.

“The vast majority of people are honest with their tax affairs, but if anyone knows of somebody evading their taxes they should call HMRC and tell us.”

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