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 ten per cent penalty.
HMRC 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. Enquiries will be started into those cases.
The Right Honourable Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said today:
"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, HMRC’s Permanent Secretary for Tax, said:
"Now the NDO is closed, HMRC 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 100 per cent 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 HMRC 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."
Notes to editors
1. The Chancellor announced as part of his Pre Budget Report that the Government will legislate to make clear that all unpaid offshore tax will be viewed as deliberate non-compliance – attracting penalties up to 100% of tax due. In addition, any tax evasion carried out by use of hidden offshore accounts could leave the evader liable for aggregate penalties of up to 200 per cent of tax due – plus interest.
2. The Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) runs from 1 September 2009 to 31 March 2015. Individuals who are liable to UK tax on assets in Liechtenstein should disclose those assets and the arising income in order to meet their legal obligations to the UK. The government of Liechtenstein has also put in place a Taxpayer Assistance Compliance Programme (TACP) which requires action by financial services providers in Liechtenstein to identify UK clients and confirm that they are meeting their UK tax responsibilities. Those who fail to demonstrate they are disclosing to HMRC will have their accounts closed.
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
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