In efforts to address international tax evasion and underpayment of UK tax, HMRC is introducing new UK rules following a consultation which closed in early 2022.
Tax advisers, including advisers such as accountants or lawyers, will be required by the rules to report to HMRC ‘opaque offshore structures’ or other arrangements which share features of schemes designed to avoid the Common Reporting Standard rules.
The rules are a revision of previous EU rules which applied from 2020, and which in turn were prompted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishing model Mandatory Disclosure Rules (MDR) for international tax avoidance structures in 2018. The new UK rules, prompted by Brexit, have been described as broadly similar to the previous EU regulations.
Tax advisers will have 30 days from the setting up of the structure to report details to HMRC. There are significant penalties if the reporting is not made. There are also retrospective requirements, as pre-existing structures put in place after 25 June 2018 also need to be reported within 180 days of the new rules coming into force.
Under the MDR, tax authorities in a jurisdiction where an arrangement is set up will share information about it with the tax authority in the jurisdiction where the taxpayer is resident.
HMRC has decided advisers will be obliged to report using online using the XML file format which is widely used for international automatic exchanges of information. Advisers using manual reporting systems under the existing regulations will need to update their systems to meet the new requirement.
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions said: “Governments around the world have been trying to clamp down on international tax evasion and the new UK rules are part of these efforts. Advisers helping their clients with tax planning using complex offshore structures and other similar arrangements should take care to ensure they report any arrangements which are captured by the rules. Failure to do so could incur significant penalties.”
Simmons & Simmons and Osborne Clarke have published comment on the new rules. The original HMRC consultation can be found here.
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