The number of requests fell from the last tax year (2010 to 2011), in which HMRC made 857 requests from overseas governments for tax information on individuals. However, Pinsent Masons said the 40% drop is likely to be because HMRC has already gathered the “low hanging fruit” and is now turning its attention to more complicated cases.
Phil Berwick a partner at the law firm said: “HMRC has begun investigations into thousands of individuals with overseas assets in the last few years, and will probably have picked off most of the low hanging fruit.”
“HMRC teams have built up a very extensive picture of the assets they think are undeclared, so they will now be able to adopt a targeted approach.”
The requests were made via double taxation agreements and, according to Pinsent Masons, HMRC has one of the world’s largest networks of double taxation agreements and tax information exchange agreements, having them with more than 100 other countries.
This network continues to expand and in 2012, the UK signed new agreements with a number of countries, including Barbados, Liberia, Brazil, and Grenada amongst others.
Among those countries most frequently targeted by HMRC in 2011, were Australia (96 requests), Spain (49 requests) and Ireland (38 requests).