HMRC accused of recruiting a child tax army

OFFICIALLY, the aim of the HM Revenue and Customs “tax matters” campaign is to make children grow into better citizens, teaching them the basics of the tax system and the purpose behind it, as well as a greater sense of civic responsibility.

It even covers the basics of how to pay tax and national insurance – all laudable aims and useful life-skills, one might assume.

But the taxman’s lesson plan, which was created in 2009, also calls for pupils to think about people who do not want to pay tax or try to defraud the system.

On top of that, pupils are then challenged to “think of any examples they may have heard of in their local area?”

Coming on top of the latest crackdown in which HMRC published an online photo gallery of the “top 20 tax fugitives,” Baker Tilly’s George Bull fears the taxman is creating a generation of tax spies.

“In the Soviet era, children were recruited to inform on their parents,” the tax lawyer said, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek.

“While we support HMRC in its reasonable efforts to manage the tax system, recruiting children in to a Stasi-style venture might, we suggest, be going a little too far.”

In response, HMRC said the following:
"HMRC has been providing basic information for many years to teachers to use when teaching financial education in classrooms. We certainly don't use this to collect information on tax evaders from children. These materials are solely designed to help children to learn about how tax works in Britain."