TaxCorporate TaxHartnett: 4,000 disclosures in tax ‘amnesty’

Hartnett: 4,000 disclosures in tax 'amnesty'

'A few million pounds' taken by taxman with three weeks to go before the deadline

Just over 4,000 people have made offshore tax disclosures under the
government’s
‘amnesty’
scheme, Accountancy Age can reveal.

Three weeks before the scheme’s deadline, there have been 4,300 disclosures,
HM Revenue & Customs director general Dave Hartnett said, totalling ‘a few
million pounds.’

‘We have got 400,000 account details from the notices we served on banks,
around 34,000-35,000 people have so far asked for the [offshore disclosure]
packs, and 4,300 people have made disclosures,’ Hartnett told Accountancy
Age
.

The numbers confirm suggestions that the initial response to the disclosure
plan has not been overwhelming, but Hartnett added it was not a surprise: ‘I am
expecting a last minute rush.’

The largest disclosure so far has been ‘north of half a million pounds,’ he
said, saying that disclosures were coming from all kinds of people: ‘We are
seeing an incredible range. City brokers, retired professional people, a
landlady who put her takings into her offshore bank account, retired company
directors.’

There are thought to be bigger disclosures in the pipeline, while some of the
smaller disclosures have been as little as £1,500.

The numbers are the first concrete figures to come out about the scheme,
which was prompted by a series of demands to banks that they reveal details of
offshore bank accounts they hold.

Special Commissioners’
cases relating to those orders imply that there could be billions at stake,
though HM Revenue & Customs has since downgraded that estimate to hundreds
of millions.

The tax department is keen to publicise the offshore regime in the next few
weeks, in an attempt to get more reluctant taxpayers to confess any tax they may
have evaded.

‘We are [trying to communicate with] people burying their heads in the sand,’
Hartnett said.

There is expected to be a heavy compliance push after the scheme closes, with
those who haven’t disclosed pursued. Higher penalties and prosecutions are
likely to result.

Hartnett said HMRC was seeing some onshore disclosures as part of the scheme,
which is not exclusive to offshore evasion.

The scheme is not an amnesty, he said: ‘Amnesties ask for less [than the tax
owed]’

Further Reading:

Disclosure facility
website

Taxman targets £1.5bn in
largest disclosure order

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