HM Revenue and Customs
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Banks to disclose all offshore account information to HMRC

Banks to disclose all offshore account information to HMRC

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 12 August 2009

The Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal have today ordered over 300 banks to give details to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) about their customers who hold offshore accounts.

HMRC can now issue the information notices to banks ahead of the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO). The NDO will allow people with unpaid taxes linked to offshore accounts or assets to settle their tax liabilities at a favourable penalty rate.

HMRC will use this information to ensure everyone pays the right tax and to check that NDO disclosures are complete.

Under the rules of the NDO, people who make a complete and accurate disclosure will qualify for a 10% penalty. Those who choose not to take this opportunity and are subsequently found to have undeclared tax liabilities are likely to face a 30% or higher penalty and also run an increased risk of criminal prosecution.

The Right Honourable Stephen Timms MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:

"It is wrong that some people evade paying their fair share of tax by hiding assets in offshore accounts. Today's ruling represents real progress in creating a level playing field for all taxpayers."

Dave Hartnett, HMRC Permanent Secretary for Tax, said:

“I know there are people who regret not taking advantage of our Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF) in 2007 which focused primarily on the customers of five large banks. Today we have successfully applied to get information on the offshore accounts and assets of customers of over 300 further banks. I urge any of them who have unpaid tax liabilities connected to these accounts now or in the past to come forward and make a full disclosure during the NDO because we will use the information provided by the 300 banks to pursue those people who continue to flout the UK’s tax laws.”

Notes to Editors

1. To use the NDO a notification of the intention to disclose must be made to HMRC between 1 September and 30 November 2009.

2. Those notifying on paper can do so from 1 September to 30 November.

3. Those notifying electronically can do so from 1 October to 30 November.

4. Disclosures can then be made:

* from September 2009 to 31 January 2010 on paper

* from October 2009 to 12 March 2010 electronically.

5. The penalty rate of 10% will apply to those who were not written to by HMRC under the Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF) in 2007.

6. Those to whom HMRC wrote to in 2007 offering the 10% rate but did not complete the ODF procedure and now want to disclose will have an opportunity to do so with unpaid tax attracting a penalty of 20% which is more favourable than normal whilst demonstrating that special rates once declined are unlikely to be repeated.

7. The ODF ran from April to November 2007.

8. Once this disclosure window closes on 12 March 2010, those taxpayers who have not come forward but are found to have unpaid tax liabilities will face penalties of at least 30% rising to 100% of the tax evaded. They also run a risk of criminal prosecution.

Contacts:

Patrick O'Brien
Phone: 020 7147 2318
patrick.obrien@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Andrew Bennett
Phone: 020 7147 0051
andrew.bennett3@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

HMRC Out of Hours
Phone: 07860 359544
NDS.HMRC@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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