* Plans tougher rules on cash hidden by individuals
* Will propose penalty of up to 200 pct of tax owed
* Part of govt drive to bring down budget deficit
LONDON, April 12 Britain plans to toughen its
rules on cash hidden offshore in a new bid to crack down on
people evading tax, the government said on Saturday.
Under a proposed new criminal offence, tax officials will
only have to show that income on money held by individuals
outside Britain is taxable and undeclared in order to secure a
Currently, British tax officials have to prove that an
individual was deliberately trying to hide undeclared income
from the authorities.
"The message is clear with this new criminal offence: if you
are evading tax, there is no safe haven and we will find you,"
finance minister George Osborne said in a statement.
He has been closing loopholes used by individuals and
corporations to avoid paying tax as he tries to eliminate
Britain's wide budget deficit. The government has pushed for new
international information-sharing agreements to make it easier
to crack down on tax evasion.
Britain will start a consultation period on the proposed new
criminal offence in the coming days. It will propose toughening
up existing penalties for offshore tax evasion of up to 200
percent of the tax owed.
The government recovered 1.5 billion pounds ($2.51
billion)from offshore tax avoiders over the last two years.
($1 = 0.5980 British pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Susan Fenton)