New measures to tackle offshore tax abuse
Tax evaders are set to face tough new sanctions under plans recently announced by HMRC. The new proposals would mean that those who do not come forward and pay outstanding taxes from offshore investments and accounts could face penalties of up to three times the tax they try to evade and an increased risk of potential criminal charges.
Director General of Enforcement and Compliance for HMRC, Jennie Granger, said:
‘HMRC is getting tougher on tax evasion. It’s a crime which unfairly places a greater burden on the vast majority of people and businesses who pay the tax that they owe on time.
We are determinedly tackling this. We will find those who think they can dodge paying tax in this country. We’ve closed old disclosure facilities, increased penalties, and ramped up our powers to tackle evaders and those that help others evade – the days of any safe havens for tax evaders are numbered.
Our message is simple – come to us pay the tax and penalties that are due, before we target you with the introduction of even tougher sanctions and game-changing data.’
HMRC has also warned taxpayers that they will be better equipped to target evaders from October 2016, when they start to receive an unprecedented amount of data on those with offshore accounts in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories – a year ahead of additional data being accessed from across the globe when the Common Reporting Standard comes into force.
HMRC also announced a new Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF) will be launched from 5 September 2016. The WDF, first announced at Budget 2015, allows those with outstanding tax to put their affairs in order. This replaces previous country-specific amnesties like such as agreements with Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
However it appears that the new facility will offer no special terms for settling liabilities, and that any interest and penalties levied will be charged in full. HMRC has committed to release further details about the scheme when the WDF opens.