HMRC: Last chance for Swiss account holders to disclose

by Calum Fuller

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17 Dec 2012

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Zurich street on Swiss National Day

HUNDREDS of UK residents with Swiss bank accounts have a last chance to pay any tax due, or face investigation.

HM Revenue & Customs will write to account holders this week warning that should they fail to disclose their affairs fully and pay, penalties of up to 150% of the amount owed could be imposed.

The move is the third tranche of letters sent to UK holders of Swiss bank accounts and is part of the UK-Swiss tax agreement which is due to come into force in the new year.

After 1 January, accounts held by individual UK taxpayers in Switzerland will be subject to a one-off deduction in 2013, as long as the account was open on 31 December 2010 and is open on 31 May 2013.

That deduction will settle income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and VAT liabilities in relation to the account. However, the deduction will not be applied should the account holder instruct the bank to disclose details of the account to HMRC. Instead, the Revenue would only seek unpaid taxes with relevant interest and penalties.

From January, income and gains derived from investments held by UK taxpayers in Swiss banks will be subject to a new withholding tax, with the rates comparable to the top UK rates and payment satisfying UK liabilities. As with the amnesty, the withholding tax will not apply if the account-holder authorises disclosure of details of income and gains to the taxman.

HMRC director-general of enforcement and compliance Jennie Grainger said: "We are working carefully through the offshore data we have received and this work has so far brought in £100m in unpaid tax that would otherwise have remained lost to the UK.

"The ground-breaking agreement between the UK and the Swiss Confederation which is about to come into force will bring in up to £5bn in tax revenue to the UK. We will use the technology, data and skills at our disposal to tackle those who engage in offshore evasion. The net is closing in."

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