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Tax underpaid: a new criminal offence

Thursday April 2015

In the recent Budget, further powers have been passed to HMRC to aid them in their efforts to tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance.

One such power is the introduction of a “strict liability” criminal offence of failing to declare taxable income and gains arising offshore. “Strict liability” means, essentially, that the act itself becomes criminal regardless of the intentions or state of mind of the offender. “I didn’t know”: “I forgot”: “I was told it was OK” all alike cease to be excuses.

It is therefore imperative that any individual who has – for whatever reason – failed to declare taxable overseas income or gains should seriously consider availing themselves of one of HMRC’s disclosure facilities with immediate effect.

In relation to such facilities, HMRC have, in a surprise announcement, shortened the period for which the facilities will remain open, to be replaced after 31 December 2015 by a new limited-time “last chance” disclosure facility on very much less favourable terms than those currently available including a harsher penalty regime and no guaranteed immunity from prosecution.

For any advice and assistance regarding unpaid taxes, disclosures and generally regularising tax affairs, please contact Barry Cowley on 01234 355300 or email


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