20th December 2016
While no one can arguably feign ignorance regarding their tax payments – especially as there are experts out there able to help navigate this often complex landscape – there are some who should really know better. None more so than those operating within the authorities investigating tax fraud. But it seems there are some who fall under this description attempting to get around local laws.
Fraud scandal in France
Take the example of former French budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac and his ex-wife, Patricia Menard. In 2013, while leading the government’s fight against tax evasion, Cahuzac hid around €3.5 million in bank accounts in Switzerland, Singapore and the Isle of Man. However, it’s believed that the value of the couple’s hidden wealth is much higher as it was also used to fund their lavish lifestyle.
Both have already paid back €2.3 million, however this didn’t prevent them facing jail terms. Following a well-publicised trial, Cahuzac was sentenced to three years in prison, with Menard facing a term of two years. Also convicted alongside the couple was a banker, a legal adviser and Swiss based bank, REYL.
Perhaps rather embarrassingly for the former minister and French authorities alike, at the time the scandal broke, Cahuzac was sponsoring a bill to reinforce the fight against tax evasion and fraud in the country.
The impact on contractors
While this case is an unusual one – at least we certainly hope that there won’t be other, similar stories – it does truly highlight that no one can get away with such fraud. Everyone is liable to face punishment for tax evasion and nobody, regardless of their status, is safe from global tax authorities.
However, it’s important to add that individuals shouldn’t ‘go it alone’ when trying to legitimately navigate through often complex tax requirements. For true peace of mind and the confidence that, as a contractor, you can pick up roles across borders without potential hefty fines and criminal charges, partner with a tax expert.