Sir; Last month The Grocer reported the prosecution and conviction of Lawrence Hunt, one of the UK's best known independent retailers, for a major tax fraud (December 18, p4). It would be quite wrong to think that just because tax evasion has no specific victim, unlike most other crimes, it is more acceptable. Taxes fund public expenditure on schools, hospitals and other services for the benefit of the community. But the Inland Revenue does not take the decision to bring a prosecution for tax evasion lightly. Prosecution is only considered in serious cases. And even where relatively large amounts of tax have been evaded, the Inland Revenue sets great store on an individual's willingness to cooperate fully with their tax inspector. Hunt had failed to make such a disclosure when tackled during Revenue enquiries, though he had signed a declaration he had disclosed everything. The monetary penalties for tax evasion will be heavily reduced where there has been full cooperation. And if someone who has no reason to think the Revenue is on the trail also makes a spontaneous and full disclosure of past evasion, the maximum penalty may be reduced to as little as 10%. Mitigation of penalties in this way reflects the Inland Revenue's primary role as a tax gatherer and not as a body which stands in judgement over its customers. Those who decide that the time has come to settle up are likely to find the consequences of coming clean voluntarily are not as damaging as they may have feared. Paul Franklin Inland Revenue {{LETTERS }}