HMRC on continued crackdown on tax avoidance

David Gauke, Exchequer secretary to HM Treasury, said government will strike the right balance between delivering more tax revenues while ensuring that Britain is a great place to do business.

Speaking at HMRC’s stakeholder conference on compliance, Mr Gauke said the government was commited in cracking down on tax evasion and would publish a register of the beneficial owners of limited companies.

Mr Gauke said the move will discourage tax evasion, by removing the cloak of secrecy that currently surrounds company ownership and enables some individuals and businesses to keep the full picture of their income, profits and assets hidden from HMRC.

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He said: “Just over two weeks ago, I signed a tax sharing agreement with Jersey and Guernsey that will make sure that financial information on UK taxpayers holding accounts in Jersey and Guernsey will now be automatically provided to HMRC to make sure that the correct amount of tax is being paid.

“This means that the UK now has agreements in place with all Crown Dependencies to share tax information automatically — helping HMRC to close in on those who seek to hide their wealth offshore.”

Mr Gauke added that HMRC introduced earlier this year an annual tax on ‘enveloped dwellings’ to clamp down on wealthy individuals who own mansions through offshore companies to avoid paying tax.

He said: “And we have also acted to give HMRC the necessary powers to deter the promotion and use of aggressive tax avoidance schemes by introducing a general anti-abuse rule in July.

“We are also setting global standards for dealing with tax avoidance and encouraging international co-operation to tackle tax avoidance, close loopholes and identify abuse.

“Our legislation requiring disclosure of tax avoidance schemes, and the way that HMRC has developed relationships with large business, have both been endorsed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and adopted by other countries.

“We have used our Presidency of the G8 this year to focus on strengthening international tax standards and working on greater international tax information exchange to tackle tax havens.

“This will build on work that is already underway in the OECD and maintain the momentum set by the G20.”