HMRC makes 540 requests to overseas authorities for information on taxpayers - up 24% in a year

04 Nov 2019 | 11:11 am | 2 min. read

HMRC made 540 requests to overseas authorities for information on UK taxpayers last year, an increase of 24% on the previous year, as it intensifies its crackdown on hidden offshore assets, says Pinsent Masons, the international law firm.

Pinsent Masons says that HMRC is increasing its investigations overseas into taxpayers it believes are hiding assets. Investigations can lead to penalties of up to 200% of the tax HMRC believes is owed.

HMRC has come under pressure to more actively investigate taxpayers with hidden offshore assets since the 2016 Panama Papers scandal. There is currently an open parliamentary inquiry into whether HMRC is sufficiently able to tackle tax evasion and avoidance.

HMRC’s approach to hidden offshore assets is laid out in its ‘No Safe Havens’ strategy, which was launched in March this year. In this strategy document, HMRC says it will use criminal investigations to send a strong deterrent message to taxpayers.

The Government has also strengthened HMRC’s civil powers in recent years. This includes introducing a new asset-based penalty from April 2016 which can be up to 10% of the value of any asset in question and is charged in addition to any other penalties that apply.

HMRC’s specialist ‘Offshore, Corporate and Wealthy’ unit is at the forefront of its offshore compliance activities. This unit has yielded over £1bn from investigations in just three years and generated £560m in 2018/19 alone.

Steven Porter, partner at Pinsent Masons, says: “These numbers make it clear that HMRC is stepping up its pursuit of those it believes are hiding assets offshore.”

“However, these requests are just part of HMRC’s approach to investigations. HMRC also targets taxpayers with offshore interests through nudge letters sent to their homes and can demand information from their accountants and tax advisors.”

“HMRC is also benefiting hugely from the Common Reporting Standard which gives it access to data from over 100 foreign tax authorities. Taxpayers have almost nowhere to hide.”

“HMRC recently admitted it was behind on opening investigations into hidden offshore assets. This could kickstart more investigatory activity, so taxpayers must be prepared for a renewed push.”

Pinsent Masons explains that HMRC requests to overseas authorities are made under ‘Double Taxation Agreements’.

Latest press releases

Show me all press releases

Pinsent Masons advises Bodymed AG on the sale to Nestlé Health Science

The multinational law firm Pinsent Masons advises the holding company of the founder Dr Hardy Walle on the sale of all shares of Bodymed AG to Nestlé Health Science.

Pinsent Masons secures 11th place in Financial Times Diversity Leaders 2021 Report

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has been named as a top 20 Diversity Leader by the Financial Times, ranked 11th in its Diversity Leaders 2021 report.

Pinsent Masons advises shareholders of Goodtill on its sale to SumUp

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has advised the shareholders of Goodtill on its sale to SumUp

People who viewed this press release also viewed

Show me all press releases

Pinsent Masons advises Bodymed AG on the sale to Nestlé Health Science

The multinational law firm Pinsent Masons advises the holding company of the founder Dr Hardy Walle on the sale of all shares of Bodymed AG to Nestlé Health Science.

Pinsent Masons advises shareholders of Goodtill on its sale to SumUp

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has advised the shareholders of Goodtill on its sale to SumUp

Pinsent Masons advises Australian Gas Infrastructure Group on its landmark A$4 billion debt programme

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons advised Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), one of the largest gas infrastructure businesses in Australia, on its new funding vehicle and secured AUS$4 billion debt programme.

For all media enquiries, including arranging an interview with one of our spokespeople, please contact the press office on

+44 (0)20 7418 8199 or 

Location contacts