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Overseas? Don't go there

HMRC continues the crackdown on offshore evasion with four consultations on new criminal and civil sanctions. Jane Moore explains the proposals.

HMRC's programme for tackling offshore tax evasion has been gathering pace in recent years, fuelled by dedicated government funding. A series of new powers and prominent advertising are putting across the message that any sort of offshore tax evasion carries a heavy penalty.

Four consultations launched in July 2015 propose two new criminal offences and an array of new civil sanctions.

The proposals could have significant implications for members and their clients. This briefing summarises the key points. The consultation documents are on the GOV.UK website and they cover:

  • a new criminal offence for offshore evaders;
  • strengthening civil deterrents for offshore evaders;
  • a new corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of evasion; and
  • civil sanctions for enablers of offshore evasion.

Criminal offence for offshore evaders

The government has confirmed its intention to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence for individuals who fail to declare offshore income and gains.

This new sanction was the subject of a First round of consultation last year, and the July 2015 consultation document includes a summary of responses to that. ICAEW was very concerned about this proposal and in our response (TAXREP 58/14) we said we did not support it because it was not fair or proportionate and could catch individuals for whom such a sanction is completely inappropriate. Many respondents had similar concerns and were unconvinced of the need for this new offence.

This is an extract from an article in the September 2015 edition of TAXline, the magazine of the Tax Faculty.

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