Tax evasion is a subject that’s never far from the headlines, but there are a number of countries now working extremely hard to ensure that it is banished for good.
51 nations have signed up to the tax information exchange agreement across the world, however there are notable countries taking a far harder line than the rest, according to research compiled by CXC Global.
In a move influenced by the controversial US FATCA law, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) drew up and negotiated an agreement to swap tax information automatically between all countries that signed up. They clocked up an impressive 51 members.
Tax evasion costs governments billions of dollars a year, in fact, as so much money is so well-hidden, it is practically impossible to put a wholly accurate figure upon it.
At the time the deal was brokered, the UK Chancellor George Osborne stated that tax evaders were nothing more than a “common thief”. And yet, according to the research, while the UK do make it into the top 10 most hard-lined when it comes to tax evasion, there are five other nations that really catch the eye when it comes to their approach.
Top 10 hard-line nations
10. New Zealand
Spain has no interest in giving leeway to multi-millionaires who, despite making significant contributions to the still struggling Spanish economy, apparently have an awful lot more to give. Of particular interest are the country’s professional footballers, with Argentinians Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, plus Spanish golden boy Xabi Alonso all currently being investigated – and in an extremely high profile manner.
Messi in particular has been subjected to an extremely reputation-damaging investigation, despite paying more than $50 million in taxes in the last five years. There are question marks related to another $4 million said to have been safeguarded by a number of shell companies created by his father. The Spanish government want this.
Princess Christina, the former Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, was recently stripped of her title in relation to tax evasion enquiries said to have embarrassed the Spanish monarchy. When royalty and footballers are under the spotlight, you know the nation is taking tax evasion very seriously.
As well as Spain, Germany recently imprisoned an ex-World Cup star named Uli Hoeness for three and a half years for tax evasion, while Brazil are investigating their footballing star Neymar for around $16 million in owed taxes.
Other countries, such as Russia and Argentina are taking a different line, with the Russians implementing a policy aimed at their super-wealthy oligarchs who have such a number of offshore interests in tax shelters and assets. Argentina meanwhile are suing HSBC for allegedly helping thousands of Argentinians to find shelter from tax in Swiss bank accounts to the tune of $3 billion, something HSBC is adamant is not the case.
Back in the UK, there are also very strict policies in place, as HMRC have been given extended powers to pursue those it suspects may well owe more than they are contributing. They are now able to issue accelerated payment notices, which means that regardless of the payer’s convictions that they have indeed paid the correct amount, they must pay what HMRC demands within three months from the time of the notice, and then if there are any miscalculations on HMRC’s part, that can be spoken about at a later date. HMRC also now has the power to remove any funds directly from bank accounts if they see fit.
These are the end times for the tax evaders…