A new criminal offence will come into force in September which applies to businesses and potentially could impact on property companies and partnerships. If an employee of a business, or agent, or similar type of person (an "associated person") criminally facilitates another person to evade tax, that business will itself for the first time be criminally liable. A tax evasion is typically defined as either cheating the public revenue or deliberately and dishonestly evading payment of tax. The facilitation of tax evasion is widely interpreted to include aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring, as well as being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a tax by another person.
For the business, not knowing that facilitation by an associated person is happening will not be enough - the only defence will be to have reasonable procedures in place to prevent an associated person from providing facilitation. This means you should look to adopt appropriate procedures now aimed at preventing your employees or agents from facilitating a third party in evading tax; if you fail to do this, your business could be found criminally liable.