Britain’s parliamentary upper house has requested the current investigation limit set out in the Draft Finance Bill 2018 be scrapped.
The House of Lords’ request to HMRC would, if passed, remove the 12-year offshore investigation limit from the Draft Finance Bill 2018 – a proposal that has seen an outcry of opposition.
Most notably, Lord Forsyth, the chair of the Finance Bill Sub-Committee, voiced his concern over the clause.
In his letter Lord Forsyth described, in particular, the “deep and consistent opposition to this measure from witnesses to our inquiry, primarily because the impact would extend beyond the high net worth individuals at whom one might expect it was targeted.”
“The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group were concerned that many individuals affected by clauses 33 and 34 would be elderly people on low incomes. They, together with several other witnesses, suggested the measure be withdrawn, or at least replaced by something more proportionate and targeted.”
Call for fresh dialogue
HMRC insists the measure was put in place to investigate HNWIs. Lord Forsyth added: “On the whole, this measure is unnecessary and undesirable. We recommend that it is withdrawn from the Bill. The government should start a fresh dialogue with representatives of tax professionals to consider how offshore tax matters can be managed more effectively.”
Other critics expressed concern the elderly could be put at greater risk of unnecessary intrusion.
HMRC currently investigates offshore tax cases up to a limit of four years old.