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New Criminal Offence To Boost Fight Against Offshore Tax Evasion

Edinburgh Cityscape

If Chancellor George Osborne brings his plan to fruition, the UK will be able to crack down on tax evasion through yet another means – a new criminal offence for people keeping undeclared income in offshore accounts. Under that plan, HMRC can seek a criminal conviction for such individuals without having to prove intended tax evasion through the use of offshore locations for keeping their money.

raise the penalty limit, which currently stands at 200% of the amount owed.

The proposal will be put to consultation alongside other measures designed to deter tax dodgers. The government will seek opinions on whether to raise the penalty limit, which currently stands at 200% of the amount owed. The consultation will also look for input on how to toughen penalties if people attempt to escape detection by moving money around. In addition, the government is exploring a potential extension of the penalty regime to bring inheritance tax within its scope.

The introduction of a new criminal offence for offshore tax evaders will make it easier for HMRC to prosecute them successfully. Under the current legal framework, the taxman has to prove intent to avoid tax even when an individual has failed to declare offshore income. If Osborne succeeds in pushing through the change, HMRC will only have to prove that the income in question was not declared and was taxable.

HMRC has clawed back more than £1.5 billion…

Announcing the plan, the Chancellor said it reflected the government’s unwavering commitment to cracking down on offshore tax evasion. In the last two years HMRC has clawed back more than £1.5 billion and the UK remains steadfast in its pursuit of such offenders, he added. As evidence of that dedication, the UK prioritised tax and transparency during its G8 Presidency.