Criminal Finances Act 2017
Corporate facilitation of tax evasion offences
Part 3 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 creates two corporate criminal offences for cases where a person associated with a company or partnership facilitates the commission by another person of a tax evasion offence. The first offence, set out in section 45, applies where UK tax is involved. The second offence, set out in section 46, applies where foreign tax is involved. The inclusion of these offences in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 was an odd choice, since the thrust of the Act is focused on provisions that enhance the legislative response to organised crime. The two new criminal offences are more narrowly focused, directed at continuing efforts to close the gap between tax owed and tax collected, known as ‘the tax gap’.1 The legislative intention is to capture cases where tax professionals employed by banks and firms of accountants have assisted taxpayers to evade payment of tax in a manner that crosses the boundary from tax avoidance, which is a lawful activity, into the territory of tax evasion, which is unquestionably not. Pursuant to Regulation 3 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2017, the offences came into effect on 30 September 2017.