HMRC takes aim at British expats as it steps up tax evasion investigations

HM Revenue & Customs is targeting the British expat community as it ramps up tax evasion investigations.

The number of serious evasion cases under investigation by the UK tax authority is up by 20%. This is part of a wider crackdown on tax avoidance by the government, which has cut the estimated amount lost from £4bn in 2012 to £1.7bn last year according to HMRC figures.

Britons living abroad are now on the HMRC’s gaze as it made 1,006 requests to foreign authorities, resulting in £5.7m of tax revenue recovered last year. Since 2010 an EU directive has meant that member states are obliged to assist each other with cross-border tax collection.

HM Revenue & Customs currently has 3,809 cases involving unpaid tax allegations of more than £50,000. The government wants the number of serious tax evasion investigations to reach 5,000 or more.

The UK recently joined the Common Reporting Standard, a network of tax authorities tipping each other off about wealthy investors with undeclared offshore cash and assets. A move that might help explain the sudden increase in investigations.

British expats have been urged to ensure that their tax affairs are in order as many may not realise that they have UK tax liabilities and risk fines.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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