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30% of self-assessment taxpayers don’t pay their full tax bill


Research by Dr Arun Advani of the University of Warwick for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has found that one third of people who complete and submit a self-assessment underpay the amount of tax due.

The briefing, published on June 11th states that:

  • One in three taxpayers who complete a tax return underpay their taxes. That is more than three million people.
  • The total value of tax underpaid via self-assessment is around £8 billion, almost as much as we spend on fire services, buses and nursery places put together.
  • Most of that tax is owed by a very small minority of taxpayers: only 2% of self-assessment taxpayers, around 200,000 people, account for £4 billion of the underpayment. This is equal to almost one penny on the basic rate of income tax.

Dr Advani claims that increased funding for more tax audits by HMRC would bring in billions in extra revenue for the Exchequer. It estimates that each new tax auditor hired would bring in enough tax each year to pay their own salary and the wages of four extra NHS nurses.

However, if you are thinking ‘that sounds like HMRC have dropped the ball, maybe I should underpay my tax too.’, think again. There will be penalties, interest, threatening letters, visits from tax collectors, high levels of stress and even bankruptcy when HMRC try to force you into paying.

Talk to us if you would like help completing and submitting your tax return.