Sweden to target advisers in tax avoidance clampdown

Added 13th April 2017

The Swedish government is looking at introducing measures that would force tax advisers to report clients who use “aggressive” tax planning schemes to avoid paying tax.

Sweden to target advisers in tax avoidance clampdown

The finance ministry said in statement it has set up a parliamentary commission to consider whether advisers should be required to provide the Swedish tax authority details of clients who have received advice on how to lower their tax burden.

Apart from a broad requirement for tax advisers to uphold the law, Sweden doesn’t currently hold such disclosure obligations.

It follows similar measures being considered by other OECD nations including the UK and the European Union.

Last August, the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said it will issue hefty fines to advisers found guilty of helping their clients dodge tax - including via offshore tax havens.

Allowing the Swedish tax office, known as Skatteverket, to access information about new tax arrangements as early as would reduce the risk of taxpayers entering into illegal tax schemes, said finance ministry.

Client confidentiality

However, critics are concerned the new rules would erode the right of attorneys to offer confidential advice to their clients.

Conny Tranberg, partner at Eversheds Sutherland, the proposal is “highly controversial” and “unlikely to be welcomed” by tax professionals and their clients.

“This proposal is highly controversial. Tax is a cost and it must be competitive in a global environment. Tax advisers’ advice must be confidential,” he told Bloomberg BNA.

The proposal was originally put forward last April following the Panama Papers scandal, which saw 11 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca exposing how the rich and famous around the world used offshore shell companies to hide their wealth from the taxman.

It formed a part of a 10-point government plan to combat tax avoidance and tax evasion, similar to that announced by Germany on Thursday. The Swedish commission will present its findings in October prior to a new law being presented before parliament.

 

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Monira Matin

Senior Reporter

Monira joined International Adviser in March 2016 from Informa Global Markets where she worked as a eurobond reporter for over two years, covering fixed income markets. She has previously held a number of editorial positions covering politics, insurance and technology. Monira has a degree in Journalism and Economics from City University.

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