The government plans to abolish the voluntary disclosure scheme for people who have illicit savings abroad, tax minister Eric Wiebes told MPs on Tuesday.
Taxpayers who correct an ‘inaccurate’ tax return within two years of submitting it will no longer get off with a warning but will be fined up to 120% of the amount of the tax due, the minister said.
In the briefing, Wiebes set out a number of changes to the law designed to ‘close the net around tax consultants and taxpayers who are involved in tax avoidance constructions’.
‘The cabinet thinks tax evasion should be tackled,’ Wiebes said. ‘It is important that everyone pays the tax they are supposed to pay. It is unacceptable to try and avoid this by fraud.’
The measures are in part a response to the Panama Papers, the documents that were leaked last year showing how criminals and politicians, but also wealthy individuals, use international sham constructions to avoid paying tax.
In addition to abolishing the voluntary disclosure scheme, Wiebes says he will also take measures against bearer shares and attorney-client privilege. He also proposes disclosing fines that are imposed on tax consultants and other legal professionals who cooperate with unacceptable fiscal constructions.
Finally, Wiebes said he intends to expand liability for the payment of tax to make it easier for the tax authorities to actually collect tax, for example from heirs or foreign legal entities.
The voluntary disclosure scheme has raised roughly €1.9bn since it was introduced in 2002.
The minister will hold consultations on his proposals this year and they will then be submitted to the new parliament.
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