Welcome for joined-up approach on ‘Panama Papers’ investigations

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has responded to today’s government announcements related to the ‘Panama Papers’.

Commenting on the Government’s plan for a new taskforce to investigate the financial affairs of companies mentioned in the ‘Panama Papers’, John Cullinane, CIOT’s Tax Policy Director, said:

“This is a sensible, joined-up approach from the Government. There is a huge amount of data to work through, and this is an extremely complex area, with a number of different criminal offences in scope, with different expiry periods and burdens of proof. So it makes sense to bring together specialists from HMRC, the National Crime Agency and elsewhere in a dedicated, focused taskforce.

“It is important investigations are joined up internationally, too. The new ‘common reporting standard’ on financial account information exchange, which has been signed by more than 90 countries, should help in this regard. However, while most financial centres have signed up to the new standard, regrettably Panama has not. No doubt the Panamanian Government will come under a great deal of pressure on this front in the months ahead.”

Commenting on the confirmation of the Government’s intention to proceed with a new corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of evasion, Cullinane said:

“Practically this is going to be a challenging offence to draft.  It is very difficult to hold companies to account for actions of individuals.  Clear guidance will need to be provided to help give certainty over how the proposals will work and what organisations must do to ensure compliance. It must be possible for a diligent company to know it is compliant.”

Notes for editors

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries. The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.

The CIOT’s 17,600 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.