The director of City law firm Pinsent Masons said HMRC had increased data requests by 26 per cent last year, as part of the government’s crack down on offshore tax havens, with the taxman making 72 requests in total.
He said: “HMRC is stepping up its efforts to track down tax evaders by getting offshore tax havens to provide more information about the money being sheltered. This will send shivers down the spines of those individuals and businesses with any undisclosed assets in places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
“HMRC is closing the net and will come down heavily on those not paying tax. Individuals and businesses with money sheltered offshore should get on the front foot before HMRC finds out and begins an investigation.
“Better co-ordination between HMRC and the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories will provide HMRC with much more of the information it needs to start enforcement action against individuals and businesses it suspects of tax evasion. Those with undisclosed assets need to be proactive and approach HMRC before it is too late.”
David Adams, adviser for Halifax-based Lindley Adams, has warned advisers against using ‘tax boutiques’ that specialise in offshore arrangements. He said: “In the new climate of taxation, only by complete integrity and transparency can anyone really be sure that their financial affairs are in order.”