UK, UK, Australia Investigates Leaked Tax Data
LONDON – New data obtained by the UK, USA and Australia has led to investigations being launched into the tax affairs of more than 100 taxpayers, with a significant number of new investigations expected to be launched in the near future.
In a press release issued on May 9th the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced that it is currently cooperating with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Australian tax Office (ATO) to analyse over 400 gigabytes of data and documents in relation to potential tax evasion committed by UK taxpayers using entities registered in offshore jurisdictions.
Using the data the HMRC has already identified over 100 UK based taxpayers who are using offshore structures to actively evade their tax obligations, and the HMRC expects that more instances of tax evasion will be discovered as the investigation continues.
The HMRC has also identified more than 200 lawyers, accountants and other professionals in the UK who are actively assisting clients with establishing offshore entities, and closer investigations will be conducted into the business and services of these providers.
The HMRC has so far not disclosed where the data has come from, but tax experts have speculated that information may have received in 2010 as part of large data leak.
Commenting on the significance of the investigation the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbrone said “…the message is simple: if you evade tax, we’re coming after you”, and “…the government has invested hundreds of millions of pounds to fund the fight against tax evasion, both at home and abroad… This data is another weapon in HMRC’s arsenal.”
The IRS, ATO and HMRC have extended an offer to tax authorities around the world to join in the investigation effort into the available data in order to root out tax evaders worldwide.
Commenting on the significance of the cooperation between the ATO, HMRC and IRS, the Commissioner of the IRS Steven Miller said “…this is part of a wider effort by the IRS and other tax administrations to pursue international tax evasion… our cooperative work with the United Kingdom and Australia reflects a bigger goal of leaving no safe haven for people trying to illegally evade taxes.”