On 9 December 2015, HMRC published the summary of responses and set out that the UK government will legislate for:
- a new criminal offence for corporations that fail to take adequate steps to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion;
- tougher financial penalties for offshore evaders, including a penalty based on the value of the asset on which tax was evaded as well as wider public naming of offshore evaders; and
- a new penalty regime for those who enable tax evasion, based on the amount of tax evaded and public naming of enablers.
The summary of responses included those in respect of the current draft legislation for the new tax evasion offence in which “A relevant body (”B”) is guilty of an offence if a person associated with B (“A”) commits a tax evasion facilitation offence when acting in the capacity of a person associated with B.”
This new offence is similar to the Bribery Act 2010 model of corporate liability. Differences currently include the defence to the new offence requiring the relevant body (defined as a body corporate or partnership) to have had in place “reasonable” (as opposed to “adequate” under the Bribery Act) procedures designed to prevent persons associated with it from committing tax evasion facilitation offences.
HMRC will publish a further consultation document in early 2016 to obtain views on the draft legislation and on the draft form of guidance to accompany the new legislation, akin to that available in relation to the Bribery Act. A copy of the original consultation paper can be found here.