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This week's opinion: 10 September 2020

08 September 2020 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4759 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
The shady world of organised crime

Ihave always enjoyed examples of stating the obvious. You know the sort of thing: a packet of peanuts with the warning label ‘contains nuts’. I came across a wonderful example recently courtesy of HMRC. It has a research report with the rather grand title Understanding organised criminals’ behaviours and perceptions of risk and profit

Early on in the report comes this classic line: ‘a staged approach was planned for the study, as it was acknowledged from the outset that it would be difficult to recruit offenders who had recently been convicted of an identified crime in an organised group’. Who would have thought it? 

It goes on: ‘Individuals opted out of the research for a number of reasons. These included a lack of incentive payment, perceived risks of discussing their illegal activities, and being discouraged by others. Some withdrew shortly before interviews that had been booked with them.’ ‘Being discouraged by others’ is a splendid euphemism: it is not often that an HMRC report takes us into the world of The Sopranos

Not surprisingly the study had to be abandoned and the report doesn’t present any findings – although it still manages to fill 11 pages. 

Serious organised crime is a major issue for the tax system. We know, for example, that the first arrest has been made in connection with suspected fraud relating to the coronavirus job retention scheme. The fact that we can, I hope, share a smile at this odd report doesn’t in any way detract from Taxation readers’ support for HMRC’s efforts to come down hard on fraudsters. 

If you do one thing...

The first child trust funds set up in 2002 start to mature from this September. If clients are unsure of where their ‘about to be 18 years old’ offspring’s account is held, they can check online; see    

Issue: 4759 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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