It is interesting to note in this summary of a recent webinar the ongoing co-ordination of the efforts of both the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and also the UK's Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to reduce tax non-compliance connected to investments in crypto-currencies. Both tax authorities appear to now grasp the widespread use of such digital currencies and are seeking to ensure any associated tax liabilities are understood by the respective owner and paid as they fall due.
In truth, both tax authorities have been very slow to actually opine on whether they regard such assets as taxable, in which jurisdiction and whether as income or capital gains. However, HMRC's recent detailed guidance on the use of crypto-currencies has removed any remaining ambiguity from a UK tax perspective and it is clear there is now a drive for any non-compliant UK taxpayers to regularise their tax affairs. Indeed, the ever more global nature of tax information sharing agreements, such as the Common Reporting Standard, and specific information requests now being made of such digital platforms means that it is strongly in a taxpayer's interests to pro-actively resolve any issues rather than await contact from HMRC.
Indeed, similar obligations imposed since 2017 extend to companies and other corporate entities requiring them to ensure that any 'associated persons' connected to them are not part of any such process. In short, greater scrutiny by company directors may be required than ever before.
HM Revenue & Customs' former Director of Specialist Investigations, Andy Cole, noted that the UK's Criminal Finances Act 2017 includes a corporate criminal offence of failing to prevent 'associated persons' from facilitating tax evasion. The law applies to UK and non-UK companies and taxes. The only defence is for a company to prove that it had implemented reasonable prevention procedures.