The UK tax authority is working with the United States IRS and the Australian Tax Office in a sweeping offshore tax-evasion investigation.
This investigation is designed to track down banking clients who hide money off-shore in an attempt to evade tax. More than 400 gigabytes of data are currently under scrutiny by officials in the joint investigation.
Chancellor George Osborne described this data – the largest haul of offshore tax evasion data ever obtained – as “another weapon in HMRC’s arsenal”.
So far, HMRC has identified more than 100 British taxpayers who are benefiting from using offshore havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Cook Islands to hide their assets. Some of these offenders are already under investigation and could face fines of up to 200% of the overall tax owed.
More than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and other advisors will also be investigated for the role they play in advising clients to use complex structures to hide their assets.
HMRC has advised UK residents who use these offshore structures to review their tax arrangements to ensure that they are compliant with UK tax law.
“The message is simple”, said George Osborne. “If you evade tax, we’re coming after you”.
If you are unsure of the legal implications of your current tax structures, speak to the UK tax experts. Visit www.1stcontact-accounting.com or call 0808 121 1624.