7 November 2017
Two new offences in relation to tax evasion have come into operation as a result of the Criminal Finances Act (CFA) 2017. They cover the corporate facilitation of tax evasion within the UK, and a similar sanction for overseas offences.
The CFA means that penalties now apply not only to those who have directly been involved with corporate tax evasion, but also to business entities where tax evasion by an associate of a company (eg an employee) has taken place, and the business is found not to have adequate procedures in place that would have sufficiently prevented it.
The legislation has been triggered by events including the ‘Panama Papers’ leak in April 2016 and BBC Panorama’s investigations into certain Swiss private banks. November 2017’s ‘Paradise Papers’ scandal, revealing the use of offshore tax havens by high net worth individuals, has also intensified the media spotlight on the use of complex (but legal) structures to avoid tax.
Businesses need to take immediate steps to put themselves into a position where they can both be seen to have reasonably anticipated any issues and put defensive measures in place.