Osborne plans to strengthen law against tax dodging

Apr 12, 2014

People accused of hiding money offshore to avoid tax will have to prove it was not their intention


PEOPLE who put their money in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying tax on it will be more likely to go to jail or be fined under new plans proposed by the Chancellor George Osborne.

Currently, the tax authorities have to prove that a person intentionally tried to avoid paying tax in order to secure a conviction. A number of cases have failed because of this requirement, the Guardian reports.

With its new law, the government plans to shift the burden of proof so that anyone accused by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of sending money overseas to avoid tax must show that they were not trying to hide the money.

The government estimates that the total amount of money lost to tax evasion in 2011-12 rose by £1bn to £35bn.

"It is totally unacceptable for people not to pay tax that is due in the UK," said Osborne, who is currently at an International Monetary Fund conference in Washington. "The vast majority of wealthy people pay their taxes and their share of tax income has been going up. HMRC believes it has been difficult getting the outright tax evader."

The new proposals are part of a wider crackdown on tax avoidance which will be published on 14 April. The Treasury says in the document: "Our published criminal investigation policy will still apply, meaning criminal investigation will be pursued where there is a need to send a strong deterrent message or where conduct is serious enough that only a criminal sanction is appropriate.”

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