TaxPersonal TaxTaxman must be wary of All-out war on advisers

Taxman must be wary of All-out war on advisers

We now know that HM Revenue & Customs is not only targeting individuals for concealing money in offshore havens such as Lichtenstein but will also focus on those who help people take their money out of the country

The move signals a broadening of the campaign against the use of tax havens
and a reinvigoration of efforts at HMRC to clamp down. It was the obvious way to
go.

Advisers are the soft underbelly of the tax haven industry. Many people
would not know how to secrete their wealth offshore if it wasn’t for their
advisers. Tackle the advisers, make them feel uncomfortable, and you might go
someway to removing the conduit by which large sums find their way into a haven.

It is also clear that HMRC will pursue criminal prosecutions against advisers
who they see as repeat offenders. The taxman even has software in place to help
it identify those guilty of habitually transgressing the rules.

The aggression now involved in stamping out the use of havens is
unprecedented and after the amnesties we can expect to see criminal prosecutions
of individuals too. The taxman has indicated that it knows which advisers are at
fault and who it might use to make an example of.

But it is vital that not all accountants are tainted by the few bad apples.
And while there are clearly those that deserve the attention of HMRC, care
should be taken to ensure its comments are measured and that it doesn’t come to
see all advisers as fair game.
Advisers play an important role in compliance and aiding the tax-paying public
and an HMRC generally in conflict with the profession would not be good for
anyone involved.

comment@accountancyage.com

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