The Crime of Assisting in Evasion of Foreign Tax

Hundreds of volumes of our laws are written to ensure that the government may successfully collect taxes. A large amount of people are employed in collecting those taxes. Whole industries have been created about the collection of taxes and about the avoidance of taxes.

Under new laws that came into force on 30 September 2017 two new criminal offences have been created, dealing respectively with facilitating the evasion of UK tax or the evasion of foreign tax. These offences can be committed by those working in these tax industries.

It is the new offence of evading foreign tax that concerns me. Foreign tax evasion means conduct which amounts to an offence under the law of a foreign country, involves a breach of a duty relating to foreign tax, or would be regarded by a UK court as being knowingly concerned in, or in taking steps with a view to, fraudulent tax evasion. Foreign tax evasion facilitation means conduct that amounts to an offence under the law of a foreign country, relates to the commission by another person of a foreign tax evasion offence, and would, if the foreign tax evasion offence were a UK tax evasion offence, amount to a UK tax evasion facilitation offence.

If these offences were on the Statute book in the 1930s thousands of people would have been committed them when assisting Jews to remove their assets from the grasp of Nazi Germany’s taxation of Jews. Germany in 1934 imposed a 20% wealth tax on Jewish Wealth; in 1938 Germany confiscated Jewish Wealth. Any UK company or professional person seeking to help the Jews in those days would have been committing criminal offences if the Criminal Finances Act was in force then.

The creation of these crimes seems to be based on the hope that there are no oppressive regimes anywhere in the world that are using taxation as a means of oppression against a religious or ethnic group and there will never be such regimes. Such a fond hope!

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