No safe havens 2019 – offshore compliance matters

Since 2010, HMRC have raised an additional £2.9 billion through its focus on offshore non-compliance, giving HMRC increased powers to assess older liabilities, charge higher behaviour-related penalties and to mount criminal prosecutions for the facilitation of tax evasion.

HMRC’s success has also been boosted by several information sharing agreements with off-shore jurisdictions and the Common Reporting Standard, a global information sharing project involving over 100 jurisdictions, initiated by the UK during its presidency of the G8 in 2013.

HMRC’s stated objectives have changed since the 2014 No Safe Havens document and are now to maximise revenues and bear down on avoidance and evasion, transform tax and payments for customers and design and deliver a professional, efficient and engaged organisation.

They intend to achieve this through:

Leading internationally

• HMRC’s international focus is suggestive of a better grasp of the connections within the offshore tax environment. The UK is also a member of 2 new international partnerships, including the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC), a network of 40 jurisdictions and Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known as ‘J5’). These organisations complement HMRC’s collaboration with other UK government law enforcement agencies, including the police, the National Crime Agency and the Border Force, as well as regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority.

Assisting compliance

• HMRC have committed to invest £1.3 billion to become the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world, they have set out their intention to work with the tax profession and relevant professional bodies to improve the quality of compliance.

Responding appropriately

• HMRC have committed to using the full extent of its civil and criminal powers to investigate fraud and tackle financial crime.

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