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Offshore banking tax evaders urged to 'own up or pay up'

25 August 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent

Offshore banking customers are being urged to own up or pay up when it comes to tax payments following a recent tax court ruling.

HM Revenue & Customs won a court order earlier this month, which will force more than 300 banks to hand over details of customers with offshore banking accounts.

The move is part of an international crack down on tax evasion, and coincides with a recent deal reached between the UK and Liechtenstein authorities to recoup unpaid tax from thousands of British investors.

And, while HMRC can now request offshore banking details, it is offering Brits the chance to settle unpaid tax at a reduced penalty of 10 per cent, under the New Disclosure Opportunity.

Accountancy firms have welcomed the New Disclosure Opportunity, Bruce Lockhart, tax partner at Old Mill Accountancy LLP said: "As well as being an opportunity to regularise their personal affairs, the New Disclosure Opportunity offers tax payers the chance to manage down and contain related exposure to penalties, to a probable 10 per cent of the tax previously unpaid (or 20 per cent for those who didn't respond to HNRC in 2007), in response to an offer made under the original Offshore Disclosure Opportunity."

Old Mill is therefore encouraging tax evaders to come clean. There is a three month window for tax payers to use the New Disclosure Opportunity, starting from September 1st, and, those who don't come clean do so at their own peril, Mr Lockhart adds, "expect penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax unpaid in addition to interest charges.

"This is possibly HMRC's largest tax evasion initiative to date – those who ignore it do so at their own peril."

 © Fair Investment Company Ltd