U.K. Proposes Legislation to Impose Criminal Liability on Companies and Partnerships Whose Employees and Other Agents Facilitate Tax Evasion (Part One of Two)

The previous three years have generally heralded a new approach to combating tax evasion, with a significant international focus on cross-border cooperation and the extra-territorial application of tax regimes. The U.K. has been at the forefront of such international action, legislating or proposing a series of new rules and regimes in this area. A particular focus of the U.K. authorities has been to implement legislation designed to change the behaviour of individual taxpayers, targeting individuals directly engaged in tax evasion or who indirectly facilitate or enable that tax evasion. For a review of U.S. efforts to combat tax evasion, see “What Impact Will FATCA Have on Offshore Hedge Funds and How Should Such Funds Prepare for FATCA Compliance?” (Feb. 1, 2013); and “U.S. Releases Helpful FATCA Guidance, but the Law Still Remains” (Mar. 8, 2012). The U.K. has proposed a new set of rules that, if enacted, will introduce a new criminal liability for certain companies and partnerships in circumstances where an employee, agent or service provider facilitates tax evasion by other persons. In this guest article, the first in a two-part series, Sidley Austin partner Will Smith provides an overview of these new rules known as the “failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion” rules (UKFP rules). The second article will provide an in-depth discussion of how the UKFP rules may apply to private fund managers, including U.S.-based investment managers that have a link to the U.K. For additional insight from Smith, see “Potential Impact on U.S. Hedge Fund Managers of the Reform of the U.K. Tax Regime Relating to Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships” (Mar. 13, 2014); and Smith’s two-part series “U.K. Disguised Fee Rules May Result in Increased U.K. Taxation of Investment Fees to Individuals Affiliated With Hedge Fund Managers”: Part One (Apr. 16, 2015); and Part Two (Apr. 23, 2015).

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