‘Tsunami’ of new HMRC powers to tackle tax evasion

The Government has handed HM Revenue & Customs new powers to help it meet tax evasion prosecution targets.

In the Summer Budget, the Treasury pledged a £750m investment in HMRC.

The Chancellor said the cash would be used to pursue offshore trusts and would triple the number of evaders the tax office targets.

Osborne said the extra funding would bring in an additional £7.2bn in tax revenue.

A tax official says a “tsunami” of new powers has been unleashed by the Government to help HMRC meet its target since the Budget, the FT reports.

These include introducing “strict liability” meaning it will be no defence to claim evasion was accidental unless there is a “reasonable excuse”.

There is also a new charge that can be brought against companies and people that aid evasion, rather than simply the individuals themselves.

In addition, tax havens are the subject of increasing focus.

Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man will start sharing tax details with HMRC next year, while a tax data collaboration between 94 countries will launch in 2017.

And the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility – which allows offshore account holders to come clean about hidden assets without facing criminal charges – is due to close at the end of this year.