Hit squads ‘will move in after amnesty’

Offshore tax evaders are set to feel the full force of the taxman’s wrath if
they fail to take part in the offshore amnesty announced this week, the taxman
has made clear.

The body told Accountancy Age that it will be sending out enquiry
letters the day after the amnesty closes, to all those who have not confessed to
unpaid liabilities.

The offshore amnesty ends on 22 June, after which elite staff from HM Revenue
& Customs’ special civil investigations unit are already prepared to strike
at tax evaders, having worked in parallel with plans to introduce the offshore
disclosure facility.

‘They’re responsible for heavy duty investigation and high-level enquiries
and are good to go. Letters will go out straight after the disclosure deadline
and chances of mitigation will be severely restricted,’ said a spokesman.

The unit was formed as part of the restructuring of HMRC and is a re-badging
of the special compliance office.

Although HMRC would not refer to the facility as an amnesty, it allows
offshore account holders to make a disclosure before 22 June, and pay back tax
and interest for up to 20 years along with a 10% penalty by 26 November.

The scheme follows HMRC gaining access to the five major bank offshore
accounts, with billions of pounds in unpaid tax at stake.

The amnesty also includes disclosures made by onshore tax evaders. But any
type of disclosure that is found to be materially incorrect or incomplete will
fall outside of the penalty set in the amnesty. No penalty will be faced by
disclosures of untaxed amounts totalling less than £2,500.

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