Research and analysis

Qualitative research with people convicted of tax evasion

A qualitative investigation to understand the experiences of, and deterrence effect on, people who have been convicted of tax evasion.



In 2014 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) commissioned NatCen Social Research to undertake a small-scale qualitative research study to better understand motivations for tax evasion as well as how and why HMRC initiatives may help deter people from committing tax evasion. This qualitative research addressed three overarching aims:

  • improve understanding of offenders’ personal and business networks and consider the ripple effect on these networks, caused by an individual being prosecuted for tax evasion
  • provide understanding to demonstrate the effectiveness, or otherwise, of prosecution for tax evasion
  • identify links between taxpayer behaviour and attitudes to compliance after being prosecuted for tax evasion

NatCen conducted 12 in-depth interviews with people who had received custodial sentences for tax offences.

The findings of this research will help HMRC assess the impact prosecution has on the person in question, and on their social, family, and business networks.