Industry website Accountancy Age has reported on the arrest of two UK citizens on suspicion of using Swiss bank accounts at HSBC to avoid their tax paying duties. It represents the latest stage in the Government’s attempts to tackle those people shifting money overseas to evade their tax liabilities.
Up until December last year, HMRC had offered an amnesty to those currently utilising offshore facilities, by offering reduced penalties for coming forward.
The taxman has been working on a crackdown of offshore accounting for the past four years. This latest development suggests they are increasingly able to access the required data more effectively.
A key priority for the UK Government is to make progress in their ongoing discussions with havens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Experts certainly seem to believe that the exchange of information between governments and tax havens has gained momentum in recent years.
Of course, we’ve spoken much about the offshore loopholes exploited by companies to compensate freelancers and contractors for their work. This is a system where people get paid via an EBT (read more here) which is not fully tax deductible when actioned on in the right geographical area – i.e. the Isle of Man. The EBT loophole is distinct from the type of loopholes being discussed in this article, and is somewhat easier to legislate for – in fact, from the start of the new financial year (April 6th) this loophole will be closed.
Whatever your opinions may be of the Government, or more specifically HMRC, it’s clear they are serious in closing offshore havens and are making progress in that regard.
For more information on the latest developments, read more at Accountancy Age.