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HMRC is closing the net on offshore tax evaders

HMRC is closing the net on offshore tax evaders

The CIoT has welcomed news that HMRC is being given extra ammunition to fight the war against tax evasion.

The tax policy director of the Institute, John Whiting, said that evading taxes is not the victimless crime that some people seem to think it is. By cheating HMRC, evaders are robbing the exchequer of money that is needed to fund our public services and that has an adverse affect on all of us.

Whiting urged the Revenue to pursue tax evasion cybercrime but said HMRC had to be careful not to make tax rules more complex. More complex rules are an administrative nightmare for everybody concerned and there is also a risk that further loopholes will be created.

In related news, HMRC has sent letters to people who bank with the Swiss division of HSBC in connection with possible tax evasion. The Revenue acquired a list of wealthy Brits who bank with HSBC from a former employee of the bank, according to the BBC. A spokesperson for the Revenue said it was no longer possible to hide money offshore in order to evade tax.

The letters inform Swiss account holders that they will shortly be subject to an investigation into their tax affairs and they are advised to organise a meeting with HMRC to discuss the matter. If found guilty of tax evasion, the recipients will have to pay interest charges, penalties and face a possible civil investigation for fraudulent conduct.

The list of clients was stolen from HSBC’s Geneva branch three years ago by a former IT employee who then sold it to France. In March this year the bank admitted that the about 15,000 Swiss client accounts were affected by the theft. HSBC has since spent more than $101.5 million to upgrade its systems and improve security.

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Image: Games of lights by Vincent Luigi Molino

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