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HMRC moves to crack down on offshore tax evasion

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HM Revenue & Customs is consulting on a raft of new measures to clamp down on offshore tax evasion.

The tax office has published four consultations, which will run to 8 October, on expanding the Government’s evasion strategy.

The proposals include increased sanctions for individual tax evaders and new civil penalties for enablers, defined as “any person who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, provides services which assist a UK taxpayer to evade UK tax”.

The plans would also see new criminal offences for corporations failing to prevent their staff from facilitating tax evasion and a strict liability offence for individuals hiding their money offshore.

The Government consulted on tackling those who hide their money offshore last year, but it was argued the new offence would criminalise taxpayers making mistakes.

As a result, HMRC says the redrafted measures should better target more serious evaders.

The plans come after Chancellor George Osborne promised to hand HMRC £800m to tackle tax avoidance and raise more than £7bn in receipts as part of the summer Budget.

Treasury financial secretary David Gauke says: “It’s our duty to tackle these practices on behalf of the majority of honest individuals and businesses who pay what they owe.

“These proposals will ensure tax evasion is a high-risk activity that will result in serious consequences.”

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