New legislation in force from this month makes corporations and partnerships criminally liable when they fail to prevent their employees, agents or others who provide services on their behalf from criminally facilitating tax evasion.
Previously businesses could only be found culpable if the most senior members of the organisation – typically the board of directors – were aware of the criminality.
It is already a crime to evade tax or deliberately help another person to do so, and the Treasury says it is now taking an even firmer stance on corporate fraud.
The new measures are included in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 which came into force on 1 October.
Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “The vast majority of businesses play by the rules, but we must ensure that those that do not are accountable for their actions.
“The new offences will ensure that companies doing business in the UK take reasonable steps to prevent their staff from facilitating tax evasion.”