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Govt outlines ‘comprehensive’ new tax evasion regime

Liberal Democrat Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander has outlined harsh new penalties as part of Government plans to raise £3.1bn in a clampdown on tax evasion.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Alexander said the Government will introduce new penalties for both evaders using offshore accounts and companies found to have aided, or failed to prevent, tax dodging.

Under the plans, tax dodgers will see their fines linked to underlying assets held in offshore accounts, while facilitators will face a bill equal to the amount owed.

Alexander said: “A billionaire evading £5m of tax won’t just be liable for that £5m…if you help someone evade £1m of tax, you risk a penalty of £1m or even more yourself.”

Alexander added that HMRC will benefit from expanded powers to “name and shame” both evaders, and those who enable evasion.

The changes come in addition to widely expected reforms to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence, meaning that those who fail to disclose offshore accounts will have no defence against charges of evasion.

Alexander also sought to lay out alternative Lib Dem plans, which he said would see less borrowing than the Labour party and fewer cuts than the Conservatives.

Alexander said the Lib Dems would seek to raise a further £6bn in unpaid tax, as well as £6bn in additional tax rises.

In addition, he said the Lib Dems would make a further £12bn in departmental savings, and generate £3.5bn from welfare savings.

Although Alexander did not detail precisely where tax bills would increase, he said: “Those in high-value properties, the banking sector, and others should pay more, rather than asking those working on low incomes to accept less.”


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