On 16 July 2015, the Government issued four consultation documents on the topic of offshore tax, non-compliance and evasion.
The first consultation document discusses an increase in the minimum penalty for offshore non-compliance and evasion. This includes a new asset-based penalty regime which potentially could be so high as to amount to a confiscation of a person’s overseas assets.
The second consultation document discusses penalties for those who help people to commit offshore tax non-compliance and evasion, including ‘naming and shaming’ of those individuals.
The third consultation document sets out a new corporate criminal offence.
Finally, the fourth document provides draft legislation for a new strict liability offence, in relation to which any person who fails to notify HMRC, or submits an incorrect tax return of any offshore income or gains anywhere in the world, could be summarily convicted of a criminal offence.
The new strict liability offence would mark a major change to the operation of criminal law in the context of the UK tax system. Under the proposals, a person could be convicted of a criminal offence, notwithstanding that the failure to disclose was not deliberate.
There are currently a number of disclosure campaigns in place, including the LDF, but this will end on 31 December 2015, to be replaced by a tougher regime for a further year. Thereafter HMRC will close off opportunities to disclose on favourable terms.
The consultation documents demonstrate HMRC’s greater focus on tax evasion.
Anyone with concerns regarding their personal situation, including non-domiciles, should seek expert legal advice.
The first consultation document can be read here.
The second consultation document can be read here.
The third consultation document can be read here.
The fourth consultation document can be read here.