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HMRC: Offshore tax evasion fines to rise threefold

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed it will increase fines for offshore tax evaders up to three times the current amount under new guidelines.

The new legislation could also see those who fail to come forward and pay their outstanding tax from offshore investments and accounts face the threat of criminal charges.

The tax authority will be receiving data on UK taxpayers’ offshore finances from October, a move which financial secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, labelled as “game-changing”.

Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance, HMRC, 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 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.”

HMRC is giving taxpayers ample opportunity to get up to date with the tax they owe. From 5th September, HMRC will be opening a Worldwide Disclosure Facility, with more details expected on the initiative in due course.

“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,” added Granger.

In April, the UK also entered into an agreement with four other EU nations to share data relating to businesses and trust ownership as part of a worldwide crackdown on tax evasion.

The agreement followed swiftly on from the recent Panama Papers leak which uncovered a host of well-known individuals using tax havens to hide their wealth.

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