Clegg to pursue wealthy tax dodgers
Nick Clegg has pledged to make people pay their "fair share" of tax as he announced plans to recoup £7 billion a year currently being dodged.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the coalition would come down "as hard on tax cheats as on benefits cheats" as it seeks to tackle the deficit.
Funding will be made available for HM Revenue & Customs to increase criminal prosecutions for tax evasion five-fold, with a dedicated team of investigators created to catch those hiding money offshore.
Private debt collection agencies will be tasked with recouping up to a billion pounds of tax debt, while smugglers and organised crime will also be targeted.
HMRC estimates that the £900 million package will boost revenues by £7 billion annually by 2014-15.
However, it is unclear whether the initiative will actually increase the government's current £1.2 billion expenditure on tax avoidance, evasion and crime.
Officials indicated HMRC will be forced to find up to 25% in efficiencies from its budgets as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review before the £900 million is injected over four years.
Interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr show as the Liberal Democrat conference got under way in Liverpool, Mr Clegg insisted the coalition was committed to "beefing up resources" so that tax was collected properly.
"I want us to be, and we will be, as hard on people who are tax cheats as people who are benefits cheats," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show. "You cannot ask millions of people in this country to have restraint in pay, to have their pensions looked at again because we are having to deal with the deficit and allow people who can pay an army of lawyers and accountants from getting out of paying their fair share of taxes."
Fleshing out the package in his speech to conference, Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said "There are some people who seem to believe that not paying their fair share of tax is a lifestyle choice that is socially acceptable. It is not."