A Midland tax firm has sent a specialist team to Jersey as the clampdown on offshore accounts tightens even further.
BTG Tax is offering its expertise to banks, lawyers and trust companies and will be following the move with a similar visit to Guernsey in the late spring.
With the Government chasing evaders hard, as the recession dents many other sources of revenue, more and more overseas investors – seen as potential Al Capones by HM Customs & Revenue – are seeking advice for fear they may have strayed the wrong side of the law.
Last month a new Tax Information Exchange Agreement was signed between the UK and Guernsey, with the Government hailing it as “a significant step in the effort to counter tax evasion”.
Paul Malin, a director of tax investigations at BTG Tax, part of the Begbies Traynor Group, said: “Some may view this as a worrying development.
“Rightly or wrongly, for many years exotic places such as the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have been seen as a safe haven for funds out of sight of the prying eyes of the taxman. Slowly but surely, governments have appreciated how much they have been missing in terms of tax receipts.
“On past evidence we expect trips like the ones we are making to Jersey and Guernsey to produce a significant number of clients and potential clients anxious about where they stand.
“And, with HM Revenue & Customs breathing down the neck of offshore account holders, looking for the slightest misdemeanour, they have every right to be concerned.”
Mr Malin said the origin of the Europe-wide crackdown goes back to 2000. By 2003 it had been codified into an EU savings directive aimed at introducing principles of transparency regarding tax matters.
And last year, armed with information extracted from the UK’s high street banks, the attack on evasion was stepped up with 80,000 wealthy investors facing possible investigation by way of follow-up.