The amount of uncollected tax has increased by £1 billion from £33 billion in 2012-13 to £34 billion this year.

This is the first time that the gap has widened since the 2005-2006 tax year.

HMRC has said the main areas of missing tax are VAT, with a £0.9 billion gap, and tobacco duty, with a £0.3 billion gap.

Calculations show that £4.4 billion was lost due to “non-payments”, which largely happen due to insolvencies.

The black market, or “hidden economy”, could also be having an effect – HMRC said it could be responsible for up to £59 billion of uncollected taxes.

George Bull, senior tax partner at Baker Tilly, told Economia:

“We’ve recently seen that the Italian economy has narrowly avoided recession due to its booming organised crime sector, and interestingly, HMRC suggests that in the UK £5.9bn – 17% of the total tax gap – is lost due to the hidden economy. But who is to know whether this is correct, as the reality is that this can only ever be a finger-in-the-wind estimate.”

This setback will add further pressure to HMRC who, amid added pressure to increase tax yield, have already miscalculated up to £5 million of tax bills.

Shabana Mahmood, shadow exchequer secretary to the Treasury, blamed the government for failing to tackle tax evasion.

She said:

“These damning figures show that this government is totally failing to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. According to HMRC’s own assessment, the amount of uncollected tax rose again last year and has now gone up by £3bn on George Osborne’s watch.”