Alistair Darling's move to introduce a fresh tax amnesty inviting holders of offshore accounts to disclose any unpaid tax has been dubbed "disappointing" for its "serious" lack of detail by accountancy giant PKF says.
It welcomes the announcement of the new Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF), which calls on holders to settle up or face repercussions, but says details such as the penalty facing those who do not comply remain vague.
It adds Wednesday's announcement was already unveiled in last November's Pre-Budget Report (PBR), but has just been given new dates.
Designed to allow holders of offshore accounts an opportunity to voluntarily disclose any unpaid tax or duties and to settle debts, the Budget warns: "HMRC will pursue those who do not disclose."
"Despite being long awaited, there are no details of the workings of the disclosure facility - such as the level of penalty to be applied - whatsoever," John Cassidy, tax investigations partner at PKF, says.
"What is disappointing is the announcement of this facility was made in last November's PBR. Now, some five months later, the same announcement is being made again with the only addition being that it will run from Autumn 2009 until March 2010."
HMRC will issue notices requiring financial institutions to provide information about offshore account holders.
But Cassidy adds: "No doubt this will be used against those who do not take advantage of the new disclosure facility."
In its mission to tackle evasion and challenge tax avoidance, HMRC claims changes to the framework and its powers will raise over £1bn between 2009-2010 and protect a further £3bn of tax receipts annually by 2010-2011 from tax evasion and avoidance.
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