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31 October 2011

HMRC gets to work on overseas properties

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by Gill Montia

HMRC gets to work on overseas properties

Tax cheats who own overseas property are being targeted by a new team of investigators and specialists at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The 200-strong team began work this month, using assessment techniques to identify areas where wealthy individuals may be avoiding and evading taxes and duties.

One of the first groups to come under scrutiny is wealthy individuals who own land and property abroad.

Apparently their names can be revealed by “data mining” techniques applied to publicly available information.

HMRC risk assessment tools can then highlight those who do not appear able to afford the property, as well as those who do not appear to be declaring the correct income and gains from the property.

Other areas of interest to the new team include commodity traders and people holding offshore accounts.

Progress in these areas will involve calling on HMRC’s experts in corporate entities, residence and domicile issues, and trusts and estates.

Further details will be announced in due course.

Commenting on developments, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, says: “With HMRC’s increased capability and expertise, and its increasing success in tackling evasion both at home and offshore, the message is clear: there is no hiding place for tax cheats.”

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