Britons abroad who accidentally paid too little tax used to slip through the cracks. Not any more, finds Sam Meadows.

[Access Financial was featured in an article in The Telegraph on 8 July 2018. Content from The Telegraph is available by subscription only. However, please find a few key quotations from Kevin Austin of Access Financial below. You can read the full article text on The Telegraph website at the following link, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tax/news/hmrc-cracks-british-expats-tax-haul-trebles-risk/.]

Kevin Austin of Access Financial, an international contracting advisory firm, said a significant number of British contractors working abroad were likely to have paid the incorrect amount of tax.

“These people could be breaking the law but it’s mostly unwittingly because they aren’t fully aware of their legal residency status. They could be retirees who forget to declare some income to the Revenue – they aren’t going out of their way to avoid tax,” he said. “The Revenue’s rules in this area are very complicated and it can be hard for people to know whether they are resident or not.”

He said most of the cases he saw were British contractors working abroad who were paying taxes in their country of residence and did not realise that being linked to Britain through work, family or property could make them a British tax resident…

Mr Austin said the trend would only intensify as more countries signed up to an international effort to combat tax evasion known as the “common reporting standard”, the first results of which were seen last year. He said the addition this year of Switzerland, notorious for its secretive banking arrangements, was a significant milestone. “This is just the beginning. When it starts kicking in this is really going to mushroom,” he said…

Mr Austin said anyone caught out would have to pay the full amount owed with interest. Anyone who is deemed to have used a foreign account to try to hide income could be fined up to 200pc of the amount.