The Tax Man is coming… after Offshore Ltd Co’s

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HMRC stated a few months back that they “will introduce a new strict liability criminal offence that could mean jail for those who do not declare taxable offshore income’’ since when many freelance contractors and consultants have been keeping a keen eye on what’s coming. We’ve now learned that HMRC are already in consultation over proposals for greater powers to act against taxpayers that don’t disclose income from assets held overseas,

These additional powers, which would give HMRC the ability to make non-disclosure a criminal offence, critically remove the taxpayers’ current defence of having acted with ‘reasonable care’ ie even if they might simply have forgotten a payment or misunderstood their responsibilities. [We understand however that the consultation document does include a limited number of other defences, including where the individual can prove that they took “appropriate professional advice” from a tax expert, although this would clearly be open to considerable interpretation]

If you suspect you might have underpaid your personal or business taxes over recent years then now really is the time to take professional advice, and possibly also consider fee protection to cover your legal and accounting costs if an investigation where to be launched into your tax affairs.