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Specialist unit targets offshore evaders

24 November 2011
Issue: 4332 / Categories: News , evasion , LDF , Switzerland , Admin
More taxpayers expected to be scrutinised in shorter time

As part of their high-profile efforts to combat offshore evasion by UK taxpayers, HMRC have launched a specialist unit of technical tax experts and experienced investigators.

It will co-ordinate the Revenue’s compliance work and exploit information including bank account details to identify and pursue individuals who hide income and capital in offshore accounts to avoid paying tax and duties.

The new unit’s first task is to harmonise the recently announced activity in relation to HSBC Geneva account holders. It will also implement the operational aspects of the recently signed tax agreement between Switzerland and the UK.

According to Phil Berwick, director at law firm McGrigors, which specialises in tax investigations, HMRC have struggled to make good use of data on offshore tax evaders, amassed over the past few years.

The new offshore compliance team ‘should mean a much higher volume of taxpayers can be targeted in a shorter period of time. There were 1,721 registrations for the Liechtenstein disclosure facility as of 30 September 2011, which is a small fraction of the thousands of taxpayers who have undisclosed liabilities in offshore accounts,’ said Mr Berwick.

He added, ‘Taxpayers who are sitting tight hoping HMRC will never catch up with them should think again. The financial difference between an unprompted disclosure and a formal tax investigation could be vast.’

Issue: 4332 / Categories: News , evasion , LDF , Switzerland , Admin
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