Treasury Minister Stephen Timms called offshore tax evasion “morally unacceptable” today as HM Revenue and Customs announced that some 10,000 people had notified their intention to disclose previously undeclared offshore income and gains. Those who came forward under the new disclosure opportunity before the 4th January deadline now have to disclose and pay any unpaid tax, interest and a 10% penalty.
HM Revenue & Customs is now receiving data on offshore accounts requested from over 300 banks. It is using this to identify those who should have come forward but have chosen not to.
Commenting on the passing new disclosure opportunity deadline, Stephen Timms said:
“Hiding money in offshore accounts to evade tax is economically and morally unacceptable. It robs public services of funding and places an unfair burden on the honest majority of taxpayers.
“Some people will still be tempted, and that is why the Government will bring forward measures during 2010 to build on the significant progress made both in the UK and globally during 2009 in closing down offshore tax evasion for good.”
Dave Hartnett, HM Revenue & Collections Permanent Secretary for Tax, said:
“Now the new disclosure opportunity is closed, HM Revenue & Customs is beginning the job of using the data we have obtained from banks to identify people who have not made disclosures despite having hidden their money offshore. We are starting our investigations and penalties can be up to 110% of the tax not paid. But it’s very important to remember that when someone comes forward voluntarily, the penalty is always lower than when we catch the evader. This means it’s still well worth contacting HM Revenue & Customs if you have undisclosed offshore accounts. We are also examining information about offshore accounts in order to help us identify intermediaries who have assisted UK residents in hiding money offshore.”
** Additional Information & Advice **
Depending on your circumstances, however, it may be a good idea to speak with a solicitor who specialises in tax law. You can be matched with a solicitor for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.
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