Under new rules taking effect in January, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can charge advisers or their firms civil penalties if they are deemed to have enabled offshore tax evasion.
Advisers will now face fines of up to 100% of the amount evaded or £3000, depending which is highest, as well as being publicly named by the taxman.
The new sanctions, effective as of 1 January 2017, make accountants, bankers, lawyers and other advisers culpable for offshore tax evasion. HMRC previously released a consultation in August 2016, promising to ramp up evader sanctions.
Tax evasion is a criminal offence but HMRC can choose to impose fines on first-time offenders.
The UK is one of the first countries in the world to introduce this power, which was originally announced at Budget 2015 and legislated for in the Finance Bill 2016.
New measures planned
The government plans to introduce another corporate criminal offence later this year, for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.
This will make companies liable if an employee or contractor acting on their behalf facilitates tax evasion. In contrast, previously it had to be proven a board of directors was aware and involved in tax evasion to be held liable.
Correcting past tax evasion is another new requirement from the government, which intends to penalise anyone who has failed to do so by 30 September 2018.
The government is also consulting on a new requirement for businesses and individuals who create complex offshore financial arrangements that resembles enabling tax evasion to notify them to HMRC.
Since 2010 HMRC has secured more than £130bn in additional compliance revenues as a result of actions to tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance, and non-compliance. It has also secured more than £2.5bn specifically from offshore tax evaders.
Treasury financial secretary 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. Closer to home we are creating a tax system where taxes are fair, competitive and paid.
"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."
The chairman isn’t answering his email
Reforms not enough
An economic cocktail
To encourage consumers to shop around
Will report to Pat Shea