Beating the offshore tax gap has happened because we thought outside the Treasury box

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The FT has reported that:

People hiding money overseas are increasingly being caught by the UK tax authority, which has sharply increased revenue from undeclared offshore assets in the past year.

In the 2018-19 financial year, HM Revenue & Customs’ offshore, corporate and wealthy unit netted £560m from investigations into British taxpayers with offshore assets and income, up from £490m in 2017-18; a 14 per cent increase. The data also revealed a 72 per cent increase in tax collected since 2016-17 when £325m was raised.

As the article agrees, much of this is down to the success of automatic information exchange from tax havens. As a result of that, the tax gap has been reduced.

I have some form in this area. In June 2009 - a decade ago, almost to the day - I was told by HM Treasury officials that my idea that there could be a simple form of automatic information exchange from tax havens that would create the smoking gun to assist the recovery of funds from reluctant to declare offshore tax abusers was a non-starter and 'would not happen in my lifetime'. So I wrote a blog on the issue. And a paper. And that automatic information exchange happened, in my lifetime.

Now don't get me wrong: I am not saying I single-handedly changed this law. I did not. Along with many others I played a part though and in my case, partly by thinking outside the Treasury box. And the result has been more tax paid, in ways that the Treasury once thought impossible.

Sound familiar? A decade on I still seem to be having such arguments.