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HMRC ‘makes 490 requests to foreign governments over tax evasion’

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The number of requests for information on taxpayers that HMRC has sent to foreign governments to help with its investigations into UK tax evasion totalled 490 in 2013, says Pinsent Masons, the international law firm. The tax requests were made under double taxation agreements which provide tax authorities with the opportunity to find out the value of assets belonging to a taxpayer situated overseas. HMRC has established one of the world’s largest networks of double taxation agreements.

James Bullock (Pinsent Masons) said: ‘HMRC’s efforts to identify those who may be under-declaring overseas income and gains are now running at a very high pace. There is now a global drive against the suspected underpayment of taxes reflected in new legislation and international agreements to increase the cross border transfer of information. Many UK HNWIs are now living, making investments and conducting business abroad. A sizeable number will have highly complex tax affairs across multiple jurisdictions and as the amount of information available to HMRC increases, they are likely to come under more intense scrutiny.’

Amongst the countries most frequently sent information requests by HMRC over 2013 were Ireland, the Netherlands and France. Ireland received a total of 54 requests in 2013, up 50% from the previous year. The Netherlands received a total of 35 requests in 2013, up 169% from the previous year. France received a total of 21 requests in 2013, down slightly from the 28 received in 2012.