HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is cashing in on its new tax fraud unit, collecting in an additional £5bn in revenue through the service last year.
The UK tax authority set up the Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) in 2015 to deal with serious tax probes. The team brought in £2.2bn from criminal investigations in 2016, and a further £2.7bn from civil cases, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.
One prominent criminal investigation resulted in a group of film producers, accountants and financial advisors being jailed for 36 years for their part in a tax fraud scheme worth £2.2m.
However, it is thought £16bn was lost in tax fraud last year, a sum that represents nearly half of HMRC's £34bn "tax gap" (the difference between how much HMRC should be collecting, and how much it actually brings in).
Paul Noble, tax director at Pinsent Masons, said: "The new FIS has been successful in collecting additional revenue but tax fraud remains very damaging to the Treasury. HMRC wants to make examples of tax evaders and is no longer focusing on just the most simple cases of fraud.
"HMRC’s internal restructuring and the creation of the FIS demonstrates the government’s determination to stamp out tax fraud, especially in the aftermath of the Panama Papers scandal."