Offshore tax evasion

By Steven Pinhey, Tax Director

The leaking of over 11 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has once again put offshore tax evasion in the spotlight.

Whilst there are lots of 'celebrity' headlines in the files leaked, with documents purported to be linked to 12 current or former heads of state and at least 60 people linked to current or former world leaders, the ramifications of this leak will have an enormous impact on the international community in general.

There are many legitimate reasons and good commercial rationale for holding accounts and investments offshore.  However, the taxman has always been suspicious of the use of these accounts and structures and has invariably considered there to be a tax avoidance or evasion motive behind them.

We have seen in the past couple of years the Government introduce a raft of legislation aimed purely at offshore non-compliance and this, together with the use of their highly efficient software 'Connect' to analyse the millions of pieces of data it is receiving, has significantly changed the international playing field.

With the closing of the Liechtenstein and crown dependencies offshore disclosure facilities at the end of last year and the new 'last chance' disclosure facility still to be announced, people with tax to declare need to ensure that they obtain specialist tax advice when regulating their affairs.

If you would like to talk to us about your own position, please speak to your contact partner or to Steven Pinhey, tax team director, on 0207490 7766

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