In the UK, new proposals were recently released designed to address the promotion and enabling of tax avoidance schemes.
The Government unveiled a number of planned legislative changes to existing anti-avoidance regimes to strengthen HMRC powers to further clamp down on the market for tax avoidance.
These included changes under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime to ensure that the UK tax authority can act quickly and decisively where promoters fail to provide information on their avoidance schemes and clients.
Changes have also been proposed to enable HMRC to more effectively issue “stop notices” to promoters under Promoters of Tax Avoidance Scheme (POTAS) rules, to make it harder to promote schemes that do not work, and to prevent promoters from abusing corporate entity structures to avoid their obligations these rules.
The proposed legislative amendments would also ensure that HMRC can obtain information … Read More »
In Denmark, investigations linked to the Panama Papers have revealed almost DKK1bn (USD145m) in undisclosed income, according to a report from the Danish Tax Agency.
The Panama Papers leak concerned more than 11.5m internal documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The data included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports, and corporate records relating to the ownership of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. It covered a nearly 40-year period, through to the end of 2015.
The Danish tax authority paid DKK6.4m for access to information in the Panama Papers linked to Danish citizens in September 2016.
On April 23, 2020, the Danish Tax Ministry announced that as a result of the Tax Agency’s investigations, tax demands totalling DKK411m had been issued to 78 companies and 104 individuals.
The Tax Ministry also revealed a substantial increase in tax data acquired through automatic exchange … Read More »
Governments now compete fiercely for foreign investment, and the reforming of tax codes is arguably the most effective way to achieve results, at least in the short-term. Indeed, the general consensus is now that the TCJA, for all its flaws and quirks, has tilted the competitive landscape towards the US. And away from Canada? There is a large body of taxpayers, tax advisers, businesses, think tanks and other commentators there who seem to think so, given the increasing frequency of the warnings they are sounding about a growing competitiveness gap either side of the 49th parallel. They are unlikely, then, to have been very inspired by the Canadian Government’s 2019 Budget, announced on March 19, which, with anti-avoidance as its central theme, concentrated on tax claw-backs rather than tax giveaways.
Is the Canadian Government therefore unconcerned? Or merely just complacent? It … Read More »
Long gone are the days of invisible ink, candlesticks in libraries, and paper trails. Now the trail that many an investigator must follow, including those detecting for tax evasion, is digital. Indeed, unless you are completely off-grid, it’s probably nigh-on impossible not to leave digital finger and footprints all over the place without even realizing it.
Social media is becoming something of a treasure trove for those looking for people with hidden secrets. Or not so secret secrets, as the case may be. And again, this is a platform that is becoming very useful to the tax man. This was highlighted by French Budget Minister Gerard Darmanin’s announcement last week that the tax authorities will soon begin trawling through peoples’ social media accounts looking for signs that one’s lifestyle doesn’t quite match the humble income declared on one’s tax return. Well, … Read More »
The OECD doesn’t have a blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions right now. At least, if there is a sheet of paper filed somewhere in its Paris headquarters under “blacklist,” there are no jurisdictions on it. However, blacklists, it seems, are all around us. Individual countries, particularly in the European Union, maintain them, and the EU is at present attempting to compile a definitive blacklist of jurisdictions that are supposedly soft on tax and financial crime, albeit with some difficulty.
The fact that the EU is struggling to complete what should be, on the surface, an easy task – after all, it’s only a list of countries and territories – hints at the flaws inherent in a blacklist. The criteria used to determine a “bad” jurisdiction in tax and legal terms is subjective, and can vary from one country to another. One state’s bad egg … Read More »
Bashing big business is de rigueur these days – an appropriate use of a French phrase considering the recent early morning raid by (reportedly) around 100 investigators and five magistrates on Google’s offices in Paris. Accusations of aggravated financial fraud and money laundering abound, linked to Google’s headquarters in Ireland. That is quite a joint accusation against one the globe’s biggest businesses.
But it is no secret that France – with Germany – has long held a grudge against Ireland and its competitive business tax and streamlined regulatory environment. That grudge became most apparent when the Celtic tiger lost its teeth during the financial crash, and refused to budge on calls led by those two countries to increase its low (for EU standards) 12.5 percent corporate tax rate as a condition for a bailout.
For more information on this, and other … Read More »
It’s difficult to know where to begin with the Panama Papers affair. Predictably, most people have latched on to the “us and them” angle – how the rich, powerful, and well-connected get to live by a different set of rules from those who pay tax in full. The world does seem like a very unfair place sometimes. But it’s difficult also not to highlight the hypocrisy of some of the world’s leading politicians, who seem to rule by the mantra of “do what I say, not what I do.”
That being said, it might be an unpopular thing to say, but the massive irony about all this is that the vast majority of people named in the Panama Papers probably have done nothing illegal. Yet nobody has drawn attention to the crime that was committed to create this exposé in … Read More »
The European Council, with the Netherlands at the presidency helm, last month released its BEPS Roadmap for the short and medium term. It lays out plans for further work on the Interest and Royalties Directive to include further restrictions on interest deductions, and on the Anti Avoidance Directive, with key focus on tightening controlled foreign company rules across the EU. This is perhaps an uncomfortable position for the Netherlands to be in; during much of the BEPS initiative, it remained largely silent on the proposals being put forward, choosing to wait for recommendations. And while it has made a few changes to its laws to reflect certain BEPS developments, in part in line with EU requirements, the Netherlands has not done so with the sheer gusto demonstrated by, say, the UK.
For more information on this, and other topical international tax … Read More »
It would be somewhat remiss not to mention the latest battery of anti-corporate tax avoidance proposals from the European Commission, especially as they represent probably the most serious attempt by Brussels so far to harmonize corporate tax in the EU. Indeed, even the most europhile member states in the heart of “old Europe” (France, Germany, Benelux et al) must have been taken by surprise by the ferocity of the Commission’s recent attacks on member states’ tax regimes. But, rather than do the predictable thing of chastening Brussels for its latest power grab over the tax sovereignty of European nations, it is possible look at this from a different angle. If there’s one good thing to come out of the EU’s aggressive stance on tax avoidance, it’s that minds are beginning to focus on tax reform on the other side of … Read More »
It’s certainly debatable. In Switzerland, still the epicenter of the private banking world, confidentiality laws remain on the statute books. But this fundamental pillar of the Swiss legal system is undoubtedly being weakened as Berne acquiesces to the transparency demands of foreign nations and plurilateral organizations, the latest of which was the joint declaration by Switzerland and Australia on the implementation of automatic information exchange in tax matters. Not that Switzerland can really be condemned for giving ground. It has been surrounded by the massed ranks of the world’s tax inspectors for a number of years, and generally it hasn’t given in without putting up a good fight. These days the phrase “banking secrecy” is used in a pejorative way, alongside other uncomplimentary descriptors of wealth management and offshore finance, like “tax haven,”, and many people would probably denounce me … Read More »