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HMRC Success Against Bernie Ecclestone :  What does this mean for those of us that aren't billionaires?

Its been widely publicised that HMRC have been successful in their criminal investigation of Bernie Ecclestone for tax fraud, with Mr Ecclestone pleading guilty and receiving a 17-month suspended jail sentence.

The former Formula 1 empresario and billionaire businessman was charged with concealing a Singapore-based trust with a bank account containing £400m and prosecutors said he had made untrue or misleading representations to HMRC. Mr Ecclestone had already agreed to pay a £652.6m civil settlement over unpaid tax, interest, and penalties. 

HMRC will be very pleased with this result and the publicity it brings, making it clear that they will do whatever it takes to collect taxes and prosecute where appropriate.

Clearly Mr Ecclestone is at the ultra-high net worth end of the scale, but its important to understand that HMRC have no concept of materiality.

They will pursue all taxpayers for unpaid tax and are focused on collecting unpaid taxes which arise for offshore matters.   As I write this they are no doubt trawling through the information they are being provided from overseas countries in accordance with information exchange agreements and common reporting standards.  Their systems are using this information to cross reference with a taxpayers records and they are targeting anyone where there might be a discrepancy, or often targeting them even when there’s a perfectly valid reason for income or gains not being disclosed, such as remittance basis users.

If the Ecclestone case has left you worried or concerned and you would like some assistance in reviewing your tax affairs please get in touch.  We can provide a service where we review your tax affairs to identify any potential issues or provide comfort that all is in order.  If we identify any issues which need to be rectified, we can do this using HMRC’s worldwide disclosure facility, or other disclosure methods if they are more appropriate and applying our many years of experience to help do this as efficiently as possible.