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UK plans to crack down on tax-dodging planners, accountants

[LONDON] The UK government is planning to bring in tougher penalties for accountants and advisers who help their clients avoid taxes.

Such enablers would face fines of as much as 100 per cent of the tax their client underpaid, under proposals set out in a consultation document by the Treasury in London on Wednesday.

While people who avoid paying tax currently face financial penalties if they are successfully prosecuted in court, those who advise them run few risks, according to the Treasury. The new measures aim to penalize everyone in the tax-avoidance chain. The plan comes on the back of government measures making it illegal for companies to facilitate fiscal evasion by their employees.

"People who peddle tax-avoidance schemes deny the country of vital tax revenue and this government is determined to make sure they pay," Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison said in a statement. "These tough new sanctions will make would- be enablers think twice and in turn reduce the number of schemes on the market."

The plans under consultation also clarify the rules on whether proven cheaters have taken reasonable care to ensure their tax returns don't contain inaccuracies, making it easier to enforce penalties when avoidance schemes are defeated.