With G20 ministers welcoming a new global standard to automatic tax information exchange and encouraging governments of financial centres to sign up to new international tax information sharing agreements, Chancellor George Osborne has launched a new campaign targeting taxpayers with money secreted in offshore accounts.
The UK has already entered into new information sharing agreements with the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey which will provide HMRC with access to more data than ever before on offshore accounts held by UK taxpayers.
Following an agreement with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the UK will also hasten the implementation of the new global standard on a multilateral basis. So far 42 countries and jurisdictions have joined this initiative and by so doing will limit the hiding places for tax evaders in this country.
The new campaign began on Monday and will run in national newspapers and weekly magazines. Where someone has an overseas account but has not declared all their taxable income and gains on their UK tax return, HMRC are encouraging those taxpayers to make a voluntary disclosure now before the Revenue make the discovery. Those that do come forward and use HMRC’s disclosure facility will be offered the best terms on offer but those that ignore this opportunity and get found out could face a penalty of up to double the tax and even imprisonment.
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, said, “Most people with offshore assets do the right thing and tell us about them, and therefore have nothing to worry about. But for the minority who don’t, the net is closing around them.
We are getting more and more information that helps us to target offshore tax cheats more effectively than ever before. If you have assets offshore you need to get in touch with us urgently, because we will catch up with you. That can mean a fine of 200% of the tax that you owe, and the possibility of criminal prosecution and a prison sentence.
The days of hiding money in another country to cheat the UK are coming to an end.”
More details about HMRC’s disclosure facility can be found by visiting the Do you have undeclared income offshore? page.