The new, tougher penalties take effect from 1 October and HMRC’s advice is that anyone with overseas assets needs to put their cards on the table quickly or risk much bigger fines. As is always the case, HMRC will prosecute the most serious cases of tax evasion.
The Director General for Customer Strategy and Tax Design, HMRC, David Richardson, said:
“Everyone has to pay their tax and the vast majority of people and businesses already do. It’s on their behalf that we are cracking down on offshore tax cheats.”
These new penalties are part of the government’s drive to ensure there are no safe havens for taxpayers that seek to evade paying tax. HMRC already holds a vast amount of data on offshore assets and this is growing all the time. The majority of taxpayers with offshore assets already disclose them in line with UK law so have nothing to worry about, but for the minority of tax dodgers time is running out.
The government recognises that some people may not realise that they must declare their overseas income to HMRC if, for example, they have worked overseas or are receiving income from a rental property outside the UK. People with overseas income that aren’t sure they’ve paid the correct tax are urged to check HMRC’s guidance here and contact HMRC if necessary before the new, tougher penalties take effect.
HMRC has recently published a consultation on the implementation of a new minimum time limit of 12 years, announced at the Autumn Budget 2017, for HMRC to assess offshore tax. More information on this consultation, and how to respond, is available here.