Since 2010 HMRC has bought in more than £2b from offshore tax evaders and the Government has repeatedly strengthened HMRC’s powers and resources with new criminal offences and higher penalties, so tougher action can be taken by those that are perceived to have hidden their money in offshore tax havens. New measures include higher financial penalties (currently up to 300% of any tax found to have been hidden offshore), such as, for the first time, taking part of the evaded asset as a penalty and a potential new strict liability criminal offence for offshore evasion, meaning it would no possible to plead ignorance in an attempt to avoid criminal prosecution.
HMRC has a great deal of information on offshore companies, gathered from a wide range of sources and intelligence. For example, HMRC has approached the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the BBC and The Guardian to share its data, so HMRC can cross-reference it with ‘Connect’, HMRC’s sophisticated data interrogation system and database of intelligence, to see if it adds to the 700 current leads HMRC already have with a link to Panama. In addition, HMRC will automatically receive offshore account and trust data from more than 90 countries, including British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies with a financial centre.
HMRC is following up thousands of leads on potential offshore evasion at any one time. In April 2016, HMRC announced that its specialist offshore unit in its Fraud Investigation Service was currently investigating more than 1,100 cases of offshore evasion around the world, with more than 90 individuals subject to current criminal investigation.
In light of this and given HMRC has run a number of formal disclosure facilities in relation to offshore evasion, a voluntary disclosure to HMRC in respect of any offshore issue is the best way of protecting yourself from punitive action by HMRC. If you have undisclosed income, gains, assets or investments here in the UK or overseas, then you need protection.
How can we help?
We have extensive experience in assisting clients who are either subject of an on-going HMRC tax investigation in relation to undisclosed offshore income, assets and/or gains or wish to make a voluntary disclosure in respect of such matters.
We will control and manage your offshore tax investigation or voluntary disclosure to get you through the process quickly and effectively and will keep you fully informed of progress throughout. We will reduce the extent of HMRC’s potential enquiry, significantly diminish the potential financial penalties that could be charged and minimise the chance of HMRC publishing details about you on its ‘Tax Defaulters’ website.
Our involvement has prevented our clients from being criminally investigated or, worse still, prosecuted. For any client who accepts they deliberately and falsely understated their taxable income, we attempt to secure them immunity from prosecution in return for making a full disclosure of all irregularities.
On occasions the offshore data HMRC holds is incomplete or years out-of-date leading to HMRC making incorrect assumptions. If this is the case we will robustly defend your position.