Taxman targets £1.5bn in largest disclosure order

The government has obtained the largest ever disclosure order
against Barclays bank, which will enable it to obtain details of hundreds of
thousands of individual bank accounts to reclaim £1.5bn in tax.

The order, against the high street bank, will see offshore accounts
scrutinised as part of what is thought to be one of the largest fraud campaigns
ever in the UK.

Court papers show that HM Revenue & Customs expects to recover tax in 20%
of the cases it is investigating, with a total yield of £1,508m.

The disclosure notice covers more people than fill in the foreign income
sections of UK tax returns. HMRC had been alerted to the issues using
information gained from debit cards and through tax credits paid to offshore

The notice requests information on non-UK bank accounts held by UK residents.
Many, such as non-domiciliaries, may not have UK tax obligations on any interest
earned on the accounts, but others will, giving rise to the notice.

An HMRC spokesman confirmed that the order was the largest ever in terms of
the value of estimated tax it would recoup. A spokesman said: ‘Those who have
been declaring the existence of offshore accounts as the law requires have
absolutely nothing to worry about. The best advice to those that haven’t is to
get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible.

‘The special commissioner’s ruling is a landmark decision. The action is
about fairness and about creating a level playing field for all taxpayers.’

The disclosure notice is the work of the Offshore Fraud Project group, whose
work in identifying and tackling fraud losses has so far hugely exceeded

Tom Rowbotham, director of tax risk at Deloitte, said he expected the notice
to be the first in a series. ‘This represents a significant figure towards
HMRC’s targets in reducing the tax gap,’ he said.

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