HMRC unit to track down tax dodgers

HM Revenue & Customs has set up a specialist unit targeting people using offshore accounts to dodge UK taxes.

The offshore co-ordination unit is made up of 25 technical tax experts, experienced investigators and offshore analysts who will oversee and co-ordinate HMRC efforts to find people who “hide income and capital in offshore accounts to avoid UK taxes and duties”.

The unit is the first to be set up using the £7bn set aside for a crackdown on tax evasion announced by Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander at the LibDem conference this year.

Treasury exchequer secretary David Gauke says: “The days when untaxed income or capital could be safely salted away offshore beyond the reaches of the taxman are gone. Offshore tax cheats are fast running out of places to hide.”

The unit will have full access to all offshore information held by HMRC. It will also oversee the Liechtenstein disclosure facility which enables people with unpaid tax relating to assets or investments based there to settle liabilities before March 31 2015. The arrangements mean that after full disclosure, a fine of up to 20 per cent of tax due will be levied instead of 100 per cent, with tax interest and penalties only sought for the previous 10 years rather than the previous 20.