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Customs Official To Lead New UK Anti-Tax Avoidance Drive

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

20 December 2004


A senior Customs official is to lead a fresh assault on tax avoidance in the United Kingdom, the Financial Times has reported.

According to the report, Chris Tailby, director of tax practice at Customs, has been given the task of introducing compliance strategies used successfully by the department, across the newly merged Revenue and Customs.

Tailby, who was until 2002 a tax partner at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, will lead an 100-strong anti avoidance team at the new tax super-department that will examine new methods of closing the ‘tax gap’ between what the government is theoretically owed by the taxpayer, and what it receives.

According to the Customs department's annual report, the VAT gap fell to 12.9% in 2003/4 from 15.8% after the department launched a new compliance strategy which focused on tax avoidance, ‘missing trader’ fraud (where fraudulent traders sell goods inclusive of VAT then disappear before passing on the tax to Customs), and unregistered businesses.

The new head of the Revenue and Customs Department, David Varney praised Customs’ track record, noting it had produced “impressive results during a time of significant change within the organisation.”


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