HM Revenue & Customs is planning to offer British taxpayers a second
chance to come clean about their offshore bank accounts as part of its crackdown
on tax evasion.
The government department, which is still seeking a first criminal
prosecution over offshore tax evasion, told tax experts and accountancy
institutes of its plans for a second tax amnesty at a meeting earlier this week.
HMRC had earlier suggested, then appeared to backtrack, on another amnesty,
the latest signs suggesting it is indeed planning a new disclosure scheme.
Last year HMRC raised £400m after British taxpayers with money in offshore
accounts run by high street banks were granted leniency in return for voluntary
A second offshore tax amnesty could help HMRC clear the backlog of cases in
its offshore banking investigation covering tens of thousands of investors with
bank accounts in offshore tax centres ranging from Lichtenstein to Bermuda.
Last month HMRC said it had opened enquiries into 12,000 accounts and would
proceed with a further 79,000 over the next two years.
One tax partner familiar with the offshore crackdown said the accountancy
profession would welcome a second tax amnesty but called for the HMRC to
publicise it more heavily than the last one.
‘You need to do one big amnesty and deal with the issue once and for all,’ he
HMRC is under pressure to show more progress in its offshore tax
investigation amid concerns among some accountants that the taxman is struggling
with poor quality information and a shortage of experienced investigators. HMRC
has said it has enough staff working on the investigation and always knew it was
going to be large task.
An HMRC spokeswoman confirmed a second offshore tax amnesty was likely but
said it still had to agree the details with accountants and banks.
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