Tax evaders are set to face tough new sanctions under plans detailed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The proposals will mean that those who do not come forward and pay outstanding taxes from offshore investments and accounts, could face even tougher penalties of up to three times the tax they try to evade, and increase their risk of potential criminal charges.
HMRC will be even better able to target evaders from October 2016, when it starts to receive an unprecedented amount of data on those with offshore accounts in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories – one year ahead of even more data coming in from across the globe, when the Common Reporting Standard comes into force.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said:
“Every penny of tax that people evade deprives our public services of essential funding and we are focused on collecting all tax that is due.
“From October we will start to receive data on the offshore finances of UK taxpayers. This is a game-changer in the fight against evasion and it’s time for anyone who is evading tax to do the right thing and pay what they owe.”
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.”
Alongside these changes, HMRC will open its Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF) from the 5September 2016. The WDF, announced at Budget 2015, allows those with outstanding tax to pay to put their affairs in order and will offer no special terms. HMRC will release further details when it opens.
HMRC has been clear that not paying tax by failing to disclose your offshore income and investments is illegal. In 2014-15 HMRC secured £26.6 billion by tackling tax evasion and avoidance and since 2010 has raised more than £2.5 billion from offshore evasion initiatives.
Today’s action builds on the wide range of measures introduced by the government to toughen sanctions for all those involved in offshore tax evasion. This includes a new criminal offence for tax evasion, increased civil sanctions for offshore tax evaders, and civil sanctions for those who enable offshore evasion.