Things are “only set to get worse”, accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg has said of the introduction of a new criminal offence for offshore evaders by HMRC on 7 October 2017.
Describing the measure as HMRC’s “most severe punitive measure yet”, the London-based tax and advisory practice noted that recent years have seen HMRC implement increasingly punitive measures against those evading UK tax, particularly when in relation to offshore assets.
Under the new criminal offence in relation to offshore assets, claims of carelessness or innocent error will not be considered as a valid defence for those found guilty.
Senior manager at Blick Rothenberg, Isobel Clift, said the offence is “a strict liability offence” meaning that there is no requirement to prove intent where individuals fail to notify HMRC of an offshore liability.
Ms Clift continued: “The new legislation represents a significant shift as it negates any arguments for carelessness or innocent error, and is another step forward in HMRC’s ongoing war against offshore tax evasion.
“Things are only set to get worse for those yet to bring their UK tax affairs up to date as next September will see the window close for the Requirement to Correct, and the penalties for those who have not fully disclosed their offshore assets could be in excess of 200 percent of any additional tax due.”
The offence will apply for the 2017/2018 tax year onwards where the tax is underpaid is in excess of £25,000. No offence can be committed until 6 October 2018.
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