The government is to seeking to make it a criminal offence to fail to declare taxable offshore income alongside a tougher civil sanctions regime for range of tax evasion offences.
The proposals will be launched in a HMRC consultation due to be published today, increasing the penalties available to it when dealing with evasive behaviour as such transferring assets between offshore banks in order to conceal them.
The proposals will make it a specific offence to move assets from a tax authority which has entered into an information-sharing agreement with HMRC in order to avoid declaring income or assets.
A current 20-year statute of limitations on investigations into tax affairs may also be dropped.
‘The minority who use offshore secrecy to evade UK tax are making a big mistake,’ said financial secretary to the Treasury David Gauke.
‘There is nothing wrong with holding assets offshore but investors must pay the tax they owe here.
‘Over 56,000 people have already told HMRC about what they owe offshore and HMRC has offered opportunities to clear things up as quickly and easily as possible. Those that don’t come forward must face tough consequences, including a criminal conviction.’