Paradise Papers: What Now For The Professional?

In  2016 the tax affairs of the rich and powerful were thrust into the limelight when the Panama Papers were released, and now around eighteen months later this has happened once again.  In light of these so-called Paradise Papers, questions have been raised about the role and responsibility of professionals, and whether enough is being done to stop these tax avoidance schemes.

There are multiple measures in place ready to prevent individuals and businesses from establishing and marketing such schemes, but it remains to be seen whether they’re having enough of an impact.

The Disclosure Of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) announced a regime around a decade ago, making people go to HM Revenues and Customs if such a scheme is detected, with a £1 million fine if they didn’t.

With the spotlight now thrust at how people and businesses pay their taxes, the HMRC is getting stricter on those who break the rules.

New criminal offences are being introduced which will criminalise professionals involved in tax evasion.

Jessica Parker, a partner at the solicitors Corker Binning insists these new rules will make a difference. Parker hopes this will lead individuals and businesses to “tread extremely carefully” and not fall into the blurred lines between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Clare Munro, a tax partner at accountants Lubbock Fine, also believes things are improving, and believes this new transparency concerning tax avoidance, will give people the incentive to pay back what is due.

“There will always be those who push the boundaries, but there’s been a sea change in public attitude to tax avoidance, which will make artificial and aggressive structures a thing of the past.”

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