Fancy a nice little earner? Grass someone up to the taxman.

31 July 2012

uk-money.jpgWe all know someone who seems a little bit dodgy. We might even know they are taking  “morally wrong” cash in hand. Generally, however, our dislike of the taxman outweighs any personal antipathy towards neighbourly tax dodgers. After all, they’re unlikely to be on Goldman Sachs’ level are they?

However, times is hard, and the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs reveal that they made £374,000 worth of ‘thank you’ payments to members of the public who had been kind enough to grass up their friends, relatives and neighbours.

Investigative website Exaro also revealed this is not a new thing, with over £1m in palm greasing paid out in the last three years. Last year’s figure wasn’t even the highest figure to date and the last five years amounts show a general upward trend- £309,620 in 2010-11, £384,110 in 2009-10, £281,000 in 2008-09, and £155,950 in 2007-08.

John Whiting, the director of tax policy at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, told The Telegraph: “While many people do not realise that they can get money [for informing], the Revenue does have the power to pay.”

So could you do it? Payments range from around £50 up to several thousands, depending on how much tax is recouped as a result of the information provided. HMRC does not promote these bounty payments openly, and you are advised to ensure that any request for payment for informing is made in writing and a record kept. Payments are at HMRC’s discretion and depend on “the value of the information and the quality of the result”, according to an HMRC spokesman, although he confirmed they are not necessarily a fixed percentage of the tax recouped.

And you can inform on just about anyone. Popular informees are former business partners, former spouses and employers, but you can just as easily grass on “someone bragging in the pub” or your really annoying neighbours.

A total of £42 million of unpaid tax was recovered between 2005 and 2009 as a result of information received from members of the public, according to HMRC, who declined to provide more recent figures. Clearly they did not want anyone working out the percentage of bounty fees to tax avoidance.

HMRC “would expect individuals to think first about the wrongdoing rather than about how much they might make” but at Bitterwallet, we are all in favour of killing two birds with one stone. However, before embarking on a bounty career and spending your life in pubs waiting to overhear some snippets of tax avoidance, note that any cash payment for information is only handed out once any tax has been recovered. And that could take years.

Better get started now then.


  • TeflonMan
    Will there be income tax payable on that?
  • Dinsdale P.
    That's hilarious, I know someone who grassed up a neighbour of his. He'd just come out of jail for GBH, was claiming dole and housing, working cash in hand as a brickie and living with his missus while giving a different address to the dole/probation service, he was subletting that address (claimed for on housing benefit). The revenue didn't want to know.
  • Mr M.
    If you're grassing someone up it should be an automatic investigation into the person tittle tattling as well
  • Comecon
    Perhaps I think different, and as tempting as it is, I believe it would be 'morally wrong', certainly in the case of the little man - corporations though, I would fuck them over as much as possible. Perhaps we could start with that grumpy sow, her royal bintness, the Queen et al?
  • Geoff
    Private Eye 'grasses' up tax dodgers every single fortnight. Unfortunately they're the corporations avoiding paying millions in taxes and regularly do nice little sweetner deals with HMRC officials over dinner. Instead, the HMRC and Goverment do their best 'whataboutery' and point the figure of blame at the odd tradesmen who dodges paying a few notes on a plumbing job. Marvelous.
  • Zleet
    Get out the yellow pages and grass up all the brickies, plumbers, plasterers and joiners for working cash in hand and hope some of it sticks?
  • ShakesHeadSadly
    The word... Vodafone springs to mind....
  • Mark W.
    1. Do some tax avoidance. 2. Grass yourself up. 3. Profit!!!

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