HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are set to clamp down on offshore tax evasion by treating it as a criminal offence.

Failing to declare taxable offshore income and gains is currently a civil offence, but HMRC is looking to change it to a criminal one.

In two separate consultation documents, HMRC is seeking views on the makeup of the new criminal offence, suitable precautions and rigid civil sanctions for offshore evasion; including taxpayers who attempt to disguise their wealth by moving their assets between banks in different countries.

However, for the foreseeable future at least, HMRC has confirmed that most offshore tax evasion cases will still be treated as civil offences.

HMRC are also looking to suspend the 20-year rule which limits how far they can retrospectively examine a person’s tax affairs.

David Gauke, current Financial Secretary to the Treasury, maintains that taxpayers ‘must pay the tax they owe here’.

“Thanks to this government’s leadership, countries across the world have agreed to share information on offshore accounts,” added Gauke.

“Over 56,000 people have already told HMRC about what they owe offshore and HMRC have 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.”

As a resident of the United Kingdom, you are legally obligated to declare any income you receive from offshore assets.

So, if you have undeclared offshore income or gains and want advice on what to do next, call KinsellaTax on 0800 471 4546 and speak to with one of our Offshore Disclosure experts.

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