Tax evasion enablers to be hit with new fines

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Professional advisers will face fines for helping clients evade tax (Source: Getty)

Bankers, lawyers, accountants and advisers who assist with tax evasion will be hit with new fines, as the government seeks to crack down on the behaviour.

The changes were announced as part of the then Chancellor George Osborne's 2015 Budget, and come into force today.

Those at fault will face fines of up to 100 per cent of the total they helped evade, or £3,000, whichever is highest.

Read more: Efforts to tackle tax evasion are "sticking plaster" says Hodge

The taxman will also be able to name and shame guilty parties who enable tax evasion or help move money offshore.

It'll mean that HMRC can, for the first time, charge civil penalties on the facilitators of the tax evasion; those providing planning, advice or other professional services, or actually move funds offshore.

Financial secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said: "Tax evasion is a crime and as a government we have led reform of the international tax system to root it out."

She added: "The raft of measures we have introduced to tackle avoidance and evasion will create a level playing field for the vast majority of people and businesses who play fair and pay what is due.”

Read more: "My dog ate my tax return… and all the reminders": HMRC late return excuses

This year, there'll also be the creation of a new criminal offence for companies which fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. The government is currently legislating for the measure - under which a firm will be held liable if one of its employees or contractors facilitates tax evasion.

That will be alongside a new requirement to correct past tax evasion, so anyone who has failed to rectify past evaded taxes by 30 September 2018 will be hit with new penalties.

Since 2010, HMRC has brought in £130bn in its crackdown on tax evasion, tax avoidance and non-compliance.

Tags: Tax