Negotiations on the details of a tax amnesty for British investors in
Liechtenstein will be stepped up this week, with HM Revenue and Customs
confident the jurisdiction will comply with a request to obtain UK taxpayers
Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax at HMRC, has been negotiating the
details of the amnesty with officials in Liechtenstein. He said the jurisdiction
was identified as a target following HMRC’s realisation it had data on 300 UK
residents with undisclosed accounts in the principality.
‘We were getting access to material that we hadn’t seen before – we had a
mass of information. We didn’t see much information that appeared to be
straightforward or honorable. We knew within banking secrecy that these
customers were hiding information from tax administrations around the world,’ he
Hartnett said original discussions were entered into with the Liechtenstein
Bankers’ Association, which focused on the UK gleaning information for past and
present UK residents with accounts in the jurisdiction.
‘They said their laws didn’t allow for it but, as of last week, there was an
arrangement made and we’re prepared to offer a reasonable approach,’ he said.
Hartnett conceded that despite the secrecy laws governing Liechtenstein, he’s
confident that discussions already held with the government there will
‘hopefully result in a good process’.
HMRC announced the plans for a separate tax amnesty for Liechtenstein in
addition to a broader UK amnesty due to start shortly.
Hartnett expects the Liechtenstein action alone to generate ‘hundreds of
millions’ from British residents with accounts held in the tax haven. It is
estimated that£1bn-£3bn of funds are held there.
The penalty for both amnesties is yet to be determined but, according to
Hartnett, the rate applied to either will not be less than the 10% of
outstanding tax incurred by taxpayers in the 2007 amnesty.
‘This is the last chance for people with undisclosed offshore accounts to
come forward. My message is a simple one – come forward,’ he said.
Last week, Accountancy Age revealed HMRC had sent 30 institutions a
letter inviting them to comply with a request for details of customers with
accounts held offshore.
Hartnett confirmed a further 20 letters have been sent this week, and the
department is now in consultation with as many as 50 institutions with ‘a lot
more to talk to.’
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