Tax - Sinners under the spotlight worldwide

The world's tax authorities have been busy during the summer campaigning to end tax evasion and bringing taxpayers in error to book.

In the UK, Revenue & Customs has written to 500 British holders of offshore accounts, warning them about false disclosure. Its offshore fraud projects team has given these 500 taxpayers 30 days to reply with an explanation of why there is no tax liability arising from those accounts.

In May the Special Compliance Offshore Fraud Group indicated its intention to take a stricter line with those who hold offshore bank accounts when it appointed 11 new investigators.

In Australia, a draft law designed to stop tax practitioners from promoting schemes to evade taxes has been published.

The legislation includes provisions where practitioners could be fined up to A$550,000 (£234,000). The promoter of a scheme considered to be for tax evasion may be held liable on three counts: civil penalty, statutory injunction and voluntary undertaking.

In the meantime, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) are already investigating around 500 high-profile individuals for tax evasion, among them some celebrities. It is the largest tax evasion investigation ever launched by the taxman in Australia.

In addition, more than 3,600 Australian taxpayers are being investigated by the Australian Taxation Office for use of offshore credit cards. The inquiry - started three years ago - has uncovered more than A$10m a day leaving Australia for the Channel Islands, Caribbean and other financial centres.

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