Tax & admin · 3 October 2017

HMRC laws criminalise businesses that fail to stop facilitating tax evasion

New HMRC laws introduced two criminal offences that could apply to UK corporations
British businesses that fail to prevent workers from breaking the law by facilitating tax evasion risk prosecution under new HMRC laws.

On 30 September, The Criminal Finances Act 2017 introduced two new criminal offences that could apply to UK corporations and partnerships one applying to tax evasion in the UK and one applying to evading overseas taxes.

It is already a crime in Britain to evade tax, or enable another person to do so, but the new HMRC laws can be viewed as a renewed effort by government to take a firmer stand against corporate fraud, and an attempt to encourage change in corporate culture.

The HMRC laws will criminally charge corporations and partnership businesses that fail to stop employees, agents or other service providers they’re engaged with, from deliberately facilitating tax evasion.

In a statement, financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said: The new offences will ensure that companies doing business in the UK take reasonable steps to prevent their staff from facilitating tax evasion.

the vast majority of businesses play by the rules but we must ensure that those that don’t are accountable for their actions.

HMRC will oversee investigations into tax evading offences in cases involving UK tax, whereas the Serious Fraud Office will be responsible for investigating foreign tax-related crimes. The two organisations will continue to work closely together.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.