4,000 sign up to offshore tax disclosure scheme

There had been 4,300 disclosures by the end of last week,
HM Revenue & Customs
director general Dave Hartnett said, a figure first revealed on last week.

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

The numbers confirm suggestions that the initial response to the disclosure
plan has not been overwhelming.

The largest disclosure so far has been ‘more than half a million pounds,’ he
said, saying that disclosures were coming from all kinds of people: ‘We are
seeing an incredible range, from brokers, retired professional people, retired
company directors and even a landlady.’

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

The scheme 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 HMRC has since downgraded that estimate.

The tax department is keen to publicise the offshore regime in the next few
weeks, in an attempt to force 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

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