BDO forecasts amnesty rush as Liechtenstein facility opens up

A wave of individuals with offshore accounts are expected to register for the
Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility from today.

HMRC allowed those who invested in an offshore account but did not open it
through a UK branch or agency to transfer assets to Liechtenstein by 1 November
2009 and they can now sign up for the LDF from 1 December.

Those who moved money to Liechtenstein from accounts opened through a UK
branch can also register but they will not get such favourable terms.

Advisers have reported a disappointing uptake of the New Disclosure
Opportunity- which has tougher terms than the LDF.

Fiona Fernie, tax investigations partner at BDO LLP believed that there would
be a significant rise in take-up:

“The majority of people will go for the LDF,’ said Fernie. “They weren’t able
to register until today.”

Some commentators have said that the small take-up of the NDO showed that
HMRC’s stance was not working, but Fernie warned the taxman would not be denied
revenue it believed was owed.

“If people think that’s the extent of [HMRC’s clampdown] then they are
fooling themselves.”

Law firm McGrigors said in October taxpayers had been rushing to transfer
assets into Liechtenstein bank accounts in order to take advantage of the LDF,
under which they will only have to disclose undeclared amounts going back 10
years to 1999.

Under the terms of the New Disclosure Opportunity, which applies to
undeclared assets in offshore jurisdictions other than Liechtenstein, taxpayers
will have to disclose undeclared amounts going back 20 years to 1989.

Any income from the offshore investment or profits will be liable to interest
and a 10% penalty.

Once the final disclosure window closes on 12 March 2010, taxpayers who have
not come forward but are found to have unpaid tax liabilities will face
penalties of at least 30% rising to 100% of the tax evaded and risk criminal
prosecution, HMRC warned on its website.

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