RegulationMay 9 2013

HMRC to probe 200 advisers over offshore tax schemes

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ByDonia O’Loughlin

HM Revenue & Customs has said it is to investigate more than 200 accountants and professional advisers, who it says advise on the use of “highly complex” offshore schemes that are used to minimise their UK tax bill.

HMRC said it has “identified more than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and other professional advisers” who advise on setting up such structures. It said the intermediaries will be “scrutinised” as part of a wider clampdown on offshore tax evasion.

The Revenue added that it is working with the United States and Australian tax administrations on data which reveal “extensive use of complex offshore structures to conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies”.

Although the data is still being analysed, early results show the use of companies and trusts in Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands, HMRC said.

Over 100 people who benefit from offshore structures have been identified and a number of these are already under investigation for offshore tax evasion.

Jennie Granger, HMRC commissioner and director general for enforcement and compliance, said: “There is nothing illegal about an international structure, especially in a globally integrated economy and these arrangements may be perfectly legitimate and may already have been declared to HMRC.

“However they may involve tax evasion, avoidance or other serious offences by taxpayers. What has to stop is using offshore structures to illegally hide assets and income”.