New HMRC Offshore Tax Evasion Unit
HM Revenue & Customs has launched a new specialist unit to target tax evaders who are using offshore accounts to hide income and capital.
The Offshore Co-Ordination Unit (OCU) is made up of offshore analysts, technical tax experts and experienced investigators, and marks the first instalment of 100 new offshore investigators announced by the government in September.
OCU will oversee and co-ordinate HMRC’s compliance work to identify and pursue UK citizens with offshore accounts who it suspects are seeking to evade UK tax and duties. It is separate from the Affluent Unit which was announced earlier this month, which has a very specific remit in looking at land and property offshore.
HMRC says OCU will look to make use of the increasing amount of offshore information available, including bank account data. It will be responsible for co-ordinating the activity in relation to HSBC Swiss account holders and for dealing with the operational aspects of the new tax agreement between Switzerland and the UK.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said: ‘The days when untaxed income or capital could be safely salted away offshore, beyond the reaches of the taxman, are long gone. The launch of this specialist unit, together with the other valuable work the department is driving forward in an effort to tackle offshore evasion, underlines the fact that offshore tax cheats are fast running out of places to hide.’
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