25 investigators join HMRC’s fight against tax evasion

Accountants will remember that way back in September, Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, announced that HMRC would be creating 100 new roles to crack down on tax evasion.

The first set of 25 offshore investigators have now been allocated to the Offshore Co-ordination Unit. The investigators will examine bank account data that HMRC has gathered through its various tax amnesties.

A Revenue spokesman said that the department does not yet know when it will be allocating the remaining 75 posts.

David Gauke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, remarked that the days of salting away money from HMRC are behind us. The launch of the Offshore Co-ordination Unit is just part of the government’s plan to combat offshore tax evasion. Tax cheats will very soon discover that there is nowhere left to hide.

Meanwhile, a new report authored by Graham Aaronson QC, suggests that the UK’s tax yield would increase if the government introduced a general anti-avoidance rule.

Mr Aaronson also said a GAAR would create a level playing field for UK businesses, reduce legal uncertainty and deter people from using abusive tax avoidance schemes.

The UK has a complex tax regime, Aaronson pointed out, and an essential feature of such a regime is responsible tax planning. However, abusive and artificial tax avoidance schemes are an intolerable assault on a tax regime’s integrity. A new GAAR specifically targeting these schemes will eventually result in a simpler tax system for everyone.

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