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HMRC Warns Offshore Account Holders

07 Mar 2014

HMRC has launched a new advertising campaign targeting those engaged in tax evasion through holding offshore accounts. The new campaign launched by Chancellor George Osborne follows the G20’s attempts to develop a new global programme to combat tax evasion.
HMRC will soon have increased access to offshore accounts used by taxpayers in the UK after Britain recently entered into an agreement with the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. The new proposed global tax information exchange has seen 42 countries join who all support the plans to combat tax evasion and remove the opportunities and methods currently employed by those who want to hide any undeclared income. Those engaging in tax evasion can be assured that they will be made to pay their taxes, pay large fines and may even face imprisonment in some cases.
As well as targeting individuals’ tax avoidance and evasion, the G20 ministers voiced their support for measures to combat tax evasion committed by multinational corporations – an area of contention most recently in the UK where it is estimated that international organisations have avoided paying over £30 billion in taxes.
Chancellor George Osborne emphasised the UK’s active role in the G20’s fight against global tax evasion and stated that the effects of an international tax information exchange would be beneficial to Britain. “The UK government is on the side of the hardworking majority of people and companies who pay the tax they owe. By taking global action to reform the system alongside a tough approach to enforcing the law at home, we will close the net on those who think they do not have to play by the rules. This is a victory for Britain’s international agenda and the fight against wrong doing.”
HMRC’s Director General for Enforcement and Compliance said that those who have offshore accounts will have nothing to be concerned about if they declare such holdings to HMRC. She said that HMRC is becoming increasingly better equipped to beat tax evasion. “We are getting more and more information that helps us to target offshore tax cheats more effectively than ever before. If you have assets offshore you need to get in touch with us urgently, because we will catch up with you. That can mean a fine of 200 per cent of the tax that you owe, and the possibility of criminal prosecution and a prison sentence.”
The new HMRC advertising campaign began appearing in national media since the end of February. However, the BBC states that the Labour Party has criticised a high-profile HMRC advertising campaign in 2012 which did not catch all of its targets as intended, leading to reservations on how effective the new campaign will be.
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