Offshore accounts special: AA-TV meets Dave Hartnett

The taxman has denied that tax-evading celebrities and famous sportspeople
will be singled out for ‘show trials’ following the offshore disclosure

To see the interview in full,
click here.

In an exclusive interview on Accountancy Age TV, HM Revenue & Customs
director general Dave Hartnett said that, contrary to reports, the taxman would
look to prosecute tax evaders representing a broad cross section of the public
rather than singling out the rich and famous.

‘There have been colourful reports that we’ll target sports personalities, it
doesn’t work like that,’ said Hartnett.

‘We need to provide a deterrent for the whole of society and those 400,000
investors represent a microcosm of society. So [HMRC has to] make sure our
activities are well known and reach out to every strata of society.’

Over 25,000 disclosures had been filed as Accountancy Age went to
press, with HMRC expecting 10,000 a day in the final week.

HMRC sent letters to 200,000 of the 400,000 account holders reminding them of
the scheme last week.

‘We’ve been really careful with them, and didn’t want the risk of sending
letters where we were slightly unsure of the address,’ said Hartnett.

He denied this would cause a problem in targeting tax evaders. ‘We don’t
think [it’s a problem],’ he said.

The taxman is targeting around a quarter of those with offshore accounts, or
around 100,000 people.

Responding to criticism from advisers about a deterioration in their
relationship with the taxman, Hartnett said: ‘You’ll see us seek more and more
conversations with advisers. In particular, I want HMRC to have a better
dialogue with tax advisers in the high street.’

Hartnett also rebuked advisers who had been suggesting there was a crackdown
underway on buy-to-let landlords: ‘One or two people have made a lot of the
landlord issue. We have the same aspirations [as advisers]: to get landlords to
pay the right taxes on time.’

And following criticism of the taxman on the Arctic Systems case, he said:
‘Whatever the outcome, we and the tax advisers will have to work together to
take things forward.’

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