AS many as 31 Scottish tax officials have been caught out in the past five years – for not paying their taxes.
HM Revenue and Customs admitted they had disciplined workers at five tax offices north of the border, some of whom were sacked or resigned for failing to pay their dues.
Politicians and taxpayers’ groups yesterday condemned the “stupid” and “immoral” actions of HMRC staff, asking: “If we can’t trust the Inland Revenue, who can we trust?”
The revenue was asked under the Freedom of Information Act to provide details of how many staff had been disciplined to failing to pay taxes since 2008/09.
HMRC confirmed that six workers had been given first written warnings which will stay on their record for 12 months.
The revenue refused to give precise numbers in other categories, saying up to five received final written warnings, which would stay on the workers’ records for five years.
Up to five resigned, up to five were dismissed and no further action was taken in as many as five cases.
As many as five are still being investigated. The revenue refused to disclose how many, if any, of the workers had been reported to the Crown Office for possible criminal prosecution.
The workers were employed in East Kilbride, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Cumbernauld.
They also refused to declare how many of the staff were reported to the Crown Office.
Insiders say the non-payment of tax mostly related to failing to disclose additional sources of income, such as investments, on self-assessment forms.
A spokesman for Taxpayers Scotland said: “Leaving aside the stupidity of the staff trying to evade tax when they work for HMRC, did they have no inkling of their moral position?
“Going to work to take money from others, then not paying your own dues requires a weird inverted logic. It’s like pretending you are blind on Tuesdays but all-seeing on other days.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “It’s hardly a good start for this organisation when so many suspicious activities appear to have been detected.
“If we can’t count on Revenue Scotland to keep their tax affairs in order, who can we trust?
“The Scottish Government must urgently explain what is behind this and how it was allowed to happen.”
In 1997 HMRC introduced self-assessment for millions of taxpayers, including many workers paying higher rate tax and the self-employed.