People Who Hide Their Money Overseas To Avoid Paying Tax
Face Bigger Fines & Could Be Jailed More Easily Under Government Plans To Fight Tax Evasion.
George Osborne: “If you are hiding your money offshore, we are coming to get you”
Chancellor George Osborne has presented a new sanction to help tackle off shore tax evasion. The Government intend to introduce this a new strict liability criminal offence for failure to declare untaxed offshore assets.
This would mean that HMRC will no longer have to prove that individuals who failed to declare offshore income intended to evade tax, in order for a criminal conviction to be handed down. The HMRC would now only have to demonstrate that the income was taxable and undeclared.
Chancellor George Osborne said the changes would mean there was “No safe haven” for those evading tax.
But Labour said the government was:
“failing to tackle tax avoidance and evasion”.
A consultation will be held to let the public have their say on the plans.
Paul Aplin, chairman of the ICAEW Tax Faculty’s Technical Committee, said:
“As a profession, we are fully behind the Government’s and HMRC’s efforts to tackle tax evasion. However, we have considerable concerns about these new proposals. Should such sweeping powers be introduced, there needs to be strong safeguards to protect innocent tax payers from the risk of mistakes or misuse by HMRC.”
HMRC published an update to its offshore evasion strategy which gives more details about this and other proposals.
The document No Safe Havens 2014 details the progress made in tackling offshore tax evasion, the new actions being taken, and how HMRC intends to exploit data sources better and influence behaviour.
Specific actions mentioned in the document include:
– Introducing legislation to implement the new OECD standard in automatic exchange of information between governments.
– Consulting on strengthening the existing civil sanctions, including penalties for offshore tax evasion.
– Consulting on the detail of a new strict liability criminal offence for failing to declare untaxed offshore assets.
– Paying rewards to whistle-blowers who, in HMRC’s view, provide significant information that helps tackle offshore tax evasion.
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