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HMRC offshore tax grab sees soaring revenues

The taxman’s efforts to crack down on hidden money offshore has seen a 14 per cent jump in revenue for HM Revenue and Customs.

The Financial Times reports that the specialist unit at HMRC tasked with policing the rules saw revenues come in at £560m last year on the back of British taxpayer investigations.

The figures mark the second year of stark growth for the offshore, corporate and wealthy unit. Back in 2016-17, £325m was raised by the team, the figures obtained by the FT after a Freedom of Information Act reveal from payroll and tax compliance firm Access Financial.

The unit was only launched in 2015 in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, and is already handling more than 800 investigations a year.

The unit, staffed by accountants and lawyers, is going after larger sums despite a slight drop in the number of investigations opened last year from 842 in 2016/17 to 839 in 2017/18, the FT reports.

Access Financial chief executive Kevin Austin tells the paper: “HMRC’s new offshore unit is becoming much better at focusing its resources on the biggest tax threats. Gone are the days when taxpayers who frequently worked or owned assets in different countries were able to slip between the cracks.”

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