Taxation logo taxation mission text

Since 1927 the leading authority on tax law, practice and administration

Common law offence of cheating the public revenue

29 October 2019 / Josie Welland
Issue: 4718 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Fraud phantoms

It might be thought that taxation in England and Wales is regulated entirely by statute. Numerous provisions govern not only the charge rate and collection of tax from the law-abiding taxpayer but also what should happen in cases of non-compliance. Specific provisions criminalise particular types of conduct regulate the investigation of tax evasion and state the penalties to be imposed.

Surprisingly alongside this purpose-built criminal procedure there exists an offence that rests largely on a definition provided not by parliament but by the courts and commentators of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the offence of ‘cheating the public revenue’.


A wide definition


It is an offence at common law to defraud or ‘cheat’ the general public (R v Hudson [1956] 2 QB 252). The offence was preserved by the Theft Act 1968 s 32(1)(a) which abolished the offence of cheating...

If you or your firm subscribes to, please click the login box below:

If you are not a subscriber but are a registered user or have a free trial, please enter your details in the following boxes:

Alternatively, you can register free of charge to read a limited amount of subscriber content per month.
Once you have registered, you will receive an email directing you back to read this item in full.

Please reach out to customer services at +44 (0) 330 161 1234 or '' for further assistance.

back to top icon