The British government will "sweep away" tax secrecy by forcing so-called shell companies to declare who makes money out of them, David Cameron has said.
The UK prime minister told the Guardian that "secretive companies in secretive locations" were used to avoid tax.
Businesses would have to have adequate, accurate and current information registered at Companies House by law.
Tax evasion and avoidance may be a key issue at the G8 meeting of world leaders in County Fermanagh this week, the BBC reported on Saturday.
In an interview, Cameron said: "We need to know more about who owns which company - beneficial ownership - because that is how a lot of people and a lot of companies avoid tax, using secretive companies in secretive locations.
"The way to sweep away the secrecy and get to the bottom of tax avoidance and tax evasion and cracking down on corruption is to have a register of beneficial ownerships so the tax authorities can see who owns beneficially every company."
Cameron described such shell companies as "shadowy". The register would be available only to authorities such as HM Revenue and Customs in the first instance but the government would consult on making it public.
The British premier said he would like the register to be available to everyone but "I do not want to disadvantage Britain by doing something others won't do".
At summit talks in Brussels last month, EU leaders said they were committed to tackling tax evasion.
European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said there was a "strong political will" in Europe to make tax systems fairer.
A key goal was to prevent multinational firms exploiting legal loopholes on tax.