The UK have signed a declaration to begin negotiations to exchange information on offshore bank accounts held in Switzerland.
Currently, Switzerland has strict laws in place, under which it will not give details on people who have accounts with its banks, unless HMRC can provide a name and say which bank an account is held with.
“Those with undisclosed Swiss accounts are at a significant risk of facing substantial liabilities in unpaid tax, interest and penalties if investigated by HMRC” added Howard.
HMRC have introduced voluntary disclosure schemes such as the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) allowing UK taxpayers to regularise their offshore tax affairs on favourable terms and immunity from criminal prosecution.
Most voluntary disclosure schemes, including the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility cannot be used once a tax investigation has been opened.
The LDF is not limited to assets held in Liechtenstein. Provided a Liechtenstein connection is established the LDF can be used as an umbrella for the disclosure of any tax liability connected with overseas assets.
HMRC have already been granted an extra £900m to tackle tax evasion, in particular offshore tax evasion and have also stated there will be a five-fold increase in prosecutions in the next five years.
If you have already received a tax investigation notice you will need to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Often, unpaid tax, penalty charges and interest, can be negotiated with careful handling and expert technical knowledge.
The information contained in this article is for general information only and intended for UK tax payers. Tax investigations and voluntary disclosures is a very complex area and require careful guidance, timing, technical knowledge and negotiation.