Offshore amnesty still on the cards


A partial amnesty for offshore tax evaders is very much up in the air, say
industry experts, after chancellor Gordon Brown failed to mention it during the
pre-Budget report.

Tax experts believe that the government will still have to launch a scheme to
manage the thousands of offshore accounts currently used by rich individuals.

‘They have to do something; they’ve got too much information,’ explained
Francesca Lagerberg, tax partner at Grant Thornton.

‘It would be a wake-up call to individuals, to make them think clearly about
the implications. Other options could be to cherry-pick certain cases, or a “do
this now before we come for you” approach.’

Ernst & Young tax partner Patrick Stevens said he was ‘prepared to
bet against’ the introduction of a partial amnesty.

‘HMRC has never liked amnesties. If people are stashing money away, HMRC will
get them, I don’t imagine there are that many thousands for them to
investigate,’ he said.

Reports suggest that the penalty regime for these individuals would be capped
at around a tenth of the tax owed, while interest on unpaid tax would still have
to be paid.

Sources told Accountancy Age that the total charge on top of the tax payable
could be as much as 25%.

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