UK vows crackdown on tax evaders
London, August 29, 2011
Britain will step up international pressure on British tax evaders after reaching an agreement with Switzerland, said finance minister George Osborne.
Osborne said this week's deal with Switzerland to tax money kept by British residents in secret Swiss bank accounts was 'just the start'.
'We're looking to do more and increase international pressure on those that refuse to co-operate. The number of places to hide money away from the taxman will get smaller and smaller,' he said.
Under this week's deal, Swiss banks will have to pay 500 million Swiss francs ($630m) upfront and a retro-active levy could net around £5 billion ($8.2 billion) for the British government, keen to boost revenue as it struggles with one of the largest budget deficits among industrialised countries.
Calling tax evaders 'leeches on society', Osborne said: 'My message to those who try to hide their incomes from the Revenue (British tax authority) in offshore bank accounts and false declarations is simple: We will find you and your money.'
Tax evaders also made use of tax loopholes, which had multiplied over the last decade, Osborne said.
'It's up to me ... to close the loopholes down, and the best way is to make the tax code simpler. In the last two budgets we've done that.'
Steps to counter tax avoidance in this year's budget would raise £1bn a year, he said.