The Treasury’s coffers were boosted by nearly £400m in 2016, following a crackdown by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on tax avoidance.
The amount collected by the HMRC Counter Avoidance Directorate shot up by 80 per cent last year from £494m to £886m. Cracking down on tax avoidance has increasingly become a priority for the Revenue in recent years, as it has deployed strategies including the issuing of Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs), which must be paid within 90 days.
APNs alone have raised more than £3bn since their introduction in 2014, although 3,000 of the 60,000 notices issued so far were subsequently recalled by HMRC.
A spokesman for HMRC said: “Avoidance schemes are often highly contrived and almost invariably fall flat when trying to deliver a tax advantage never intended by Parliament.
“The fact is the majority of schemes simply don’t work and can put avoidance users in a significantly worse financial position that if they had never used the scheme in the first place.”
The crackdown by HMRC is set to continue in 2017, with provisions including tougher penalties for advisers who promote avoidance schemes set to feature in the upcoming Finance Bill.
Last autumn, dozens of celebrities and prominent individuals had penalties levied against them after they were linked to “Eclipse 35” avoidance scheme, involving Hollywood films. Some repayments amounted to several times more than the original investment.