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New rules which came into effect on 1 January 2017 will see professionals who deliberately aid clients to evade (not avoid, which is legal) tax saddled with penalties of the higher of £3,000 or 100 per cent of the tax they helped their client evade.
'Tax-geared' deterrents for professional firms have been in place for many years in the USA. The new UK tax evasion penalties will apply if the adviser provides advice, planning or other professional services that facilitate tax evasion, including transferring funds offshore for a tax-evading client. They can also apply if a company facilitates tax evasion for an employee or contractor.
In addition, the professional adviser will be able to be 'named and shamed' by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the benefits they derived from their work can be considered to be the proceeds of crime and subject to confiscation.
In addition, those who have evaded tax in the past have until September 2018 to correct their past returns or face new penalties.
Over the last six years, HMRC have garnered nearly £50 million a year from offshore tax evaders.