Row after HMRC publishes tax cheats' names

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The Independent Online

The tax authorities named and shamed tax defaulters on Thursday, publishing their names and adresses on the HM Revenue & Customs website.

The move was part of the Revenue's continuing crackdown on tax dodgers, but critics warned that the latest move could be a step too far.

"The naming and shaming of evaders is unprecedented and is designed to use the power of the media as a scare tactic," said Ronnie Ludwig of accountants Saffery Champness. "But will the individuals and organisations concerned regard this as an infringement of their human rights? After all it could harm their future ability to operate their businesses."

He said those named, who included a Liverpool hairdresser and a grocer from Kirkcaldy, could seek redress through the European Court of Human Rights. "They may feel that they have been unfairly discriminated against," Mr Ludwig said.

The Revenue appeared unrepentent, however.

In a statement it said: "We have been given the power to publish these names to deter UK taxpayers from deliberately defaulting on their tax obligations. The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures people who pay their taxes – the vast majority – that there are consequences for those who refuse to tell HMRC about their full liability.

"It also encourages defaulters to make a full and prompt disclosure and cooperate with HMRC to avoid being named."

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