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Offshore tax dodgers face stiffer penalties from April

Anyone hiding money offshore could face penalties of up to 200 per cent, under new penalties that come into force in April.

The aim is to cut the hundreds of millions of pounds lost through offshore tax evasion, money which could be used to pay for essential government services.

From 6 April 2011 penalties for offshore non-compliance - for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax - will be linked to the tax transparency of the country involved.

There will be increased penalties in place for under-declared income and gains from territories which do not automatically share tax information with the UK.

The new penalties for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax non-compliance classify territories into three groups, which determine what level of penalty will apply for non-compliance.

 Category

 Transparency of territory

 Penalty

Category 1

  • UK
  • territories with automatic exchange of information on savings with the UK

The penalty will be the same as now - up to 100 per cent

Category 2

  • territories which exchange information on request with the UK
  • least developed countries without information-sharing agreements with the UK

The penalty will be 1.5 times that due under existing rules - up to 150 per cent

Category 3

  • territories which don't exchange information with the UK

The penalty will be double that due under the existing rules - up to 200 per cent

The first Self Assessment returns to which the penalties would apply are those for the 2011-12 tax year (for which the filing deadline is 31 January 2013).

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