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Are you prepared for the new corporate tax evasion offence?

The corporate offence of “failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion” came into force on 30 September 2017. Now corporations must ensure that they have developed a plan for implementing “reasonable prevention procedures”.

The offence, introduced under the Criminal Finances Act, makes corporations criminally liable in situations whereby:

  1. There has been criminal evasion of UK or non-UK tax (by either an individual or a legal entity);
  2. an individual, acting on behalf of a corporation, facilitated the tax evasion; and
  3. the corporation did not have reasonable prevention procedures in place (or it is unreasonable to expect such procedures to have been put in place).

The offence is strict liability; meaning that the knowledge or intention of the senior management is irrelevant. If convicted, corporations can face unlimited fines, on top of reputational damage and regulatory sanctions which come with a criminal conviction.

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