New offshore criminal offences for tax liabilities now in force

Oct 23, 2017

New ‘strict liability’ criminal offences have come into force for those with tax liabilities relating to offshore income, assets or activities, where the tax underpaid or understated is more than a specified threshold amount. Originally consulted on in 2015, the offences were included in Finance Act 2016 and came into force on 7 October 2017.

The offences are contained in section 106B-106D of the Taxes Management Act 1970. Statutory Instrument 2017/988 sets the threshold amount at £25,000 for unreported tax for the purposes of the new criminal offences. Statutory Instrument 2017/989 specifies further territories for the purpose of charging penalties under Schedule 21 of the Finance Act 2015 for offshore assets.

‘Strict liability’ means that in order to apply the legislation, HMRC do not have to show intent, only that tax has been underpaid or understated. The coming into force of these offences follows the coming into force of criminal legislation on 30 September 2017 for failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.