HMRC collaborating overseas to catch offshore tax evaders

14th May 2013

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has confirmed it is working with tax administrations in the United States (IRS) and Australia (ATO) in a bid to analyse data that could uncover "complex offshore structures to conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies".
 
HMRC is expected to analyse up to 400GB of data, with early results suggesting the use of companies and trusts in a wide variety of global territories, from the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands to Singapore and the British Virgin Islands.
 
Over 100 people have already been identified as benefiting from such structures, with many of these individuals already under investigation for offshore tax evasion.
 
Aside from the entrepreneurs and professionals benefitting from these offshore structures, HMRC is also taking to task more than 200 UK-based accountants, lawyers and advisors who have previously recommended methods of concealing valuable assets.
 
A statement from HMRC said: "UK residents who use these offshore structures should review their taxation arrangements, and seek advice if necessary, to ensure they are compliant with UK tax law.
 
"HMRC encourages voluntary compliance and early disclosure of tax irregularities. Failure to do so may result in a criminal prosecution or significant financial penalties and the possibility of their identity being published."
 
Chancellor, George Osborne confirmed in his latest announcement on tax evasion that these new steps show a renewed commitment from the government.
 
"The message is simple: if you evade tax, we’re coming after you.
 
"The government has invested hundreds of millions of pounds to fund the fight against tax evasion, both at home and abroad. This data is another weapon in HMRC’s arsenal.
 
"Ahead of the UK’s presidency of the G8 this year, the Prime Minister has made it a key priority to drive an international effort to increase transparency and clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion. By working with our international partners in this way, we are again demonstrating our commitment to this work."

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