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Clamping down on tax evaders

Tax authorities in Britain will be given new powers to demand personal financial details from Bermuda.

The Island is one of 90 countries that will begin to share the financial details of British residents with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) from January under new plans to catch tax evaders.

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph last week automatic information sharing between banks across the world means authorities will soon be able to access the bank accounts, property and trusts of British residents.

Adverts placed in the British national newspapers this week, listing the countries that will share data, warned people with undeclared offshore wealth to “come to us before we come to you”.

The new campaign is part of a drive to claw back an estimated offshore “tax gap” of £565m to the public purse, the Telegraph report stated.

David Gauke, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said the campaign makes it clear that HMRC will put a stop to “hiding money in another country at the expense of honest taxpayers”.

He added: “Under our new regime the small minority who evade tax offshore, facilitate or turn a blind eye to offshore tax evasion will face tougher sanctions.” From January 2017, countries including France and Spain will begin sharing the exact bank balances and savings interest received by UK residents. The data will be shared as far back as January 2016.

“There's not really anywhere for people to shelter as more and more countries begin automatic information exchanges,” Richard Morley of accountancy firm, BDO, told the Telegraph.

He added: “HMRC will let the computers do the legwork and, using its new access to previously secret financial details, will make an example of somebody to show a bit of teeth.

“It remains to be seen how they will use their new intelligence and powers, although the rules are hardly intended to imprison unwitting taxpayers who make an innocent error or forget to declare their inherited wealth.”

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Published November 30, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 30, 2015 at 12:03 am)

Clamping down on tax evaders

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