Chiltern is warning HM Revenue & Customs could start clamping down on undisclosed tax liabilities in offshore accounts as early as July.
Last month HMRC announced an ‘amnesty’ for offshore account holders which gives individuals until 22 June to notify HMRC of their intention to disclose details of their account and any unpaid tax, with the penalty reduced to just 10% of the tax owed.
Individuals then have until 26 November to submit their disclosure and payment to HMRC, however the Revenue has already warned it will take action against any account holders who fail to disclose their details, which will include full penalties and possibly even criminal proceedings.
However, Chiltern says HMRC is planning to clampdown on undisclosed accounts from 9 July, just 16 days after the initial disclosure deadline expires, although it says anyone meeting the June deadline “can be assured HMRC will not raise any enquiry into their affairs prior to the deadline of 26 November”.
Steve Besford, head of tax investigations at Chiltern, points out the 9 July is the first date on which HMRC can be assured all notifications have been processed and the appropriate 'no enquiry' signal has been posted to the taxpayer's computer record.
He says it is already known the offshore account information in HMRC's possession has already been 'risk assessed' using a central resource, so he claims cases for investigation will be distributed to local offices; Civil Investigation of Fraud Offices and Special Civil Investigation Offices immediately after 9 July.
Besford adds: "If additional tax is found to be due as a result of these enquiries, HMRC will seek considerably higher penalties than the 10% on offer under the amnesty and may even launch criminal investigations."
A spokeswoman for HMRC says: “After the notification period ends, HMRC will launch a compliance campaign, targeting holders of offshore bank accounts who do not intend to disclose.”
“Where additional tax is due, the penalties we seek could be up to 100% and are unlikely to be less than 30%. We will also consider cases for criminal prosecution. A number of teams across HMRC will be involved.”
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