Law firm Pinsent Masons reported today that cases of serious tax evasion in the UK, as established by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has dropped by 16% over the past year to the lowest level in the last five years.
According Pinsent Masons, local HMRC offices identified 2,888 suspected cases of serious tax evasion in the year ending 31 March 2013, compared to the 3,456 cases seen in the previous year.
A case of serious tax evasion is defined by HMRC as concerning the evasion of tax totalling GBP50,000 or more, or if it is suitable for prosecution.
HMRC has reportedly increased its anti-evasion measures and now has new powers and initiatives that such as the ability to impose penalties of up to 200% of the original tax owed if an individual does not declare any income or capital gains that has been hidden from HMRC in an offshore bank account.
Taskforces have also been created to help prevent cases of serious tax evasion, including the Offshore Coordination Unit (OCU) which coordinates HMRC’s analysis of the extra information on UK taxpayers that it now receives regarding money in overseas banks.
In addition, private sector experts are using state-of-the-art data analytics to improve HMRC’s strategy and use of data to identify possible tax evasion. HMRC is also expanding its resources with the recruitment of a further 2,500 tax inspectors and an increase in the amount of treaties with other countries designed to improve attempts to catch tax evaders who hold their assets in offshore accounts, including arrangements with the governments of both Liechtenstein and Switzerland