HMRC saw a drop of almost £30 billion in tax revenues in the latest financial year because of the pandemic, according to its annual accounts.
In its 2020/21 annual report, HMRC reported that it had collected £608.8 billion in tax revenues, which is down from £636.7 billion collected in 2019/20.
HMRC said the drop was due to the ‘unprecedented economic circumstances caused by COVID-19, and because pandemic restrictions meant HMRC had to reduce its compliance activity’.
The reduction in compliance activity resulted in a drop of 18% in the additional tax generated by HMRC’s work tackling avoidance, evasion, and other non-compliance. This fell from £36.9 billion to £30.4 billion. The tax authority has estimated that the tax gap is now 5.3%.
HMRC reported that it delivered £60.7 billion in grants through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Jim Harra, HMRC’s First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, said:
‘Throughout this exceptionally challenging year, we kept all our core services running and ensured customers could access the right help when they needed it. To do this, we had to make choices about how we balanced our resources – for example, we took the conscious decision to divert some of our skilled advisers from PAYE and Self Assessment services to provide COVID-19 support because that’s what individuals and small businesses needed from us most urgently at a time of acute crisis.’