Exposed 500,000 face big offshore tax penalties

HM Revenue & Customs says it has uncovered 500,000 people with money in offshore tax havens who could face severe financial penalties if they have used them to evade tax.

The Revenue is using enforced data-sharing with banks, information from whistleblowers and a new IT system which looks at anomalies between where people live, their financial assets and how much tax they pay to flag up potential tax dodgers.

It says it is confident it will raise billions of pounds in unpaid tax, interest and penalties. An HMRC spokesman says: “We are not out to victimise people but we are determined to ensure we receive what we are owed. This is not just about the very wealthy, we have found chip shop owners, taxi drivers and landladies with offshore accounts.”

Last month, HMRC launched a consultation on plans to blacklist high-risk tax avoidance schemes and force users to tell HMRC that they are in a listed scheme.