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Look out, tax cheats: HMRC is coming for you!

If you’re a tax cheat, you’re living on borrowed time: Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is coming for you – and it’s not going to stop until it catches you!

At least, that’s the impression the taxman is giving off in its latest announcement, which has the HMRC setting its sights on as massive number of tax advisors, lawyers, and accountancy experts that have been named in a 400 gigabyte data leak that tells tales out of school – and names exactly whom has been engaging in the kind of black hat tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes that involve thumbing their noses at the taxman by ferreting cash offshore. And it’s not just Jersey that this money is being sent to, either – apparently there are assets being sent as far as the Caymans, Singapore, and even the Cook Islands just in order to avoid paying taxes on these ill-gotten gains, according to the data leak.

There are literally hundreds of people being investigated because of their involvement in these hare-brained schemes. In excess of 100 people are thought to be the beneficiaries of shipping their assets overseas, and there are more than double that believed to have helped them achieve their goals. Truth be told HMRC says that some of those suspected of engaging in tax avoidance were already under investigation by the taxman before the information leak, but the figures are still absolutely massive if you ask me!

Of course, many of these tax avoidance schemes will very well be within the letter of the law, especially since current tax legislation is so riddled with loopholes that it closely resembles a block of Swiss cheese. This is especially true of the actions taken by more than a few multinationals that do business within the borders of the UK, as large firms such as Google, Starbucks, and Amazon are notorious for not paying their fair share of taxes and have been absolutely unrepentant – a fact that is a source of incredible frustration for anyone who does indeed pay their taxes honestly and consistently.

It seems like an inconsistent message that HMRC is sending by letting these multinationals get off without even a warning while the taxman goes after individuals, sole traders, and small business owners for possible tax avoidance. Of course, he argument here is that these multinationals do more good than harm simply by operating in the UK, as the large number of British employees they support means that many Brits reap a direct benefit; still this doesn’t make their actions any more palatable when they dodge literally millions of pounds in taxes a year, does it?

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