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New criminal offences for tax liabilities relating to offshore matters

New criminal offences for tax liabilities

The new ‘strict liability’ criminal offences come into force as of 7 October 2017.


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Three new ‘strict liability’ criminal offences have come into force for those with tax liabilities relating to offshore income, assets or activities, where the tax underpaid or understated is more than £25,000 in a tax year. Because of the ‘strict liability’ nature of the offences HMRC do not have to show intent, only that tax has been underpaid or understated. This marks a key shift in HMRC’s approach to such offences. Originally consulted on in 2015, the offences were included in Finance Act 2016 and come into force as of 7 October 2017.

A conviction can result in a fine or a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks, or both. There are certain safeguards provided for; the offences only relate to income and gains that are not reported under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and taxpayers may be able to rely on defences of ‘reasonable excuse’ for failure to notify and failure to file a return, or where it can be shown that ‘reasonable care’ was taken in cases of filing an inaccurate return.

These new measures are further evidence of HMRC’s continued crackdown on offshore tax evasion and non-compliance. If you have any queries about the new offences, please get in touch with your usual KPMG Private Client contact or one of the named contacts below.


For further information please contact:

Derek Scott

Michael Pape

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