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HMRC launches bid to combat offshore tax evasion

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The Government has launched a new advertising campaign targeting taxpayers with money hidden in offshore accounts.

The launch of the campaign follows a shared commitment by the G20 group of finance ministers to tackle global tax avoidance and evasion through agreements at a meeting in Australia over the weekend.

Chancellor George Osborne warned that any taxpayer who failed to declare all of their income will have to pay the tax itself as well as penalties of up to twice that sum, and they could even face imprisonment.

Osborne said: “The UK government is on the side of the hardworking majority of people and companies who pay the tax they owe. By taking global action to reform the system alongside a tough approach to enforcing the law at home, we will close the net on those who think they do not have to play by the rules. This is a victory for Britain’s international agenda and the fight against wrong doing.”

Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general for enforcement and compliance, said: “Most people with offshore assets do the right thing and tell us about them, and therefore have nothing to worry about. But for the minority who don’t, the net is closing around them.

“We are getting more and more information that helps us to target offshore tax cheats more effectively than ever before. If you have assets offshore you need to get in touch with us urgently, because we will catch up with you. The days of hiding money in another country to cheat the UK are coming to an end.”

HMRC successfully prosecuted more than 600 people for tax evasion in 2012-2013, more than double the amount in the previous 12 months and well ahead of its target for the year, figures show.

A total of 617 people faced criminal prosecutions in 2012-2013, up from 302 in 2011-2012 and well in excess of HMRC’s target of 565 prosecutions for the year, according to figures obtained by law firm Pinsent Masons.


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