Liechtenstein tax amnesty yields £140m so far

THE LIECHTENSTEIN DISCLOSURE FACILITY has yielded £140m since it was launched in September 2009, HM Revenue & Customs figures have shown.

HMRC had originally said that it expected to yield £1bn by 2015 from the facility, which allows UK residents to disclose tax irregularities with immunity and promises of lower penalties. However, it revised this figure to £3bn after what it said had been an encouraging uptake.

The statistics show that there were 1,351 registrations by 31 March 2010, up from 876 registrations in September 2010 and 419 registrations in March 2010.

Phil Berwick, tax investigations director at McGrigors, said the registration figures had showed a fairly consistent increase.

It is harder to analyse the £140m figure without knowing the numbers of applications that have been accepted, he said. However, it does suggest “HMRC is unlikely to get near the £3bn they have been touting”, he added.

Uncertainty over a possible deal with Switzerland has prevented more people coming forward, he said. “From our dealings with clients, the uncertainty has played a part in fewer people coming forward. The sooner the deal with the Swiss is announced, the more those people who have sat on the fence have an incentive to come forward.”

Frank Strachan, head of tax at Lass Salt Garvin lawyers, said the figures were “steady, without showing stellar results”.

“They clearly have some way to go before they get to the target they set themselves,” he added. “It would be interesting to see whether there will be a increase in the number of people signing up by September 2011. On the ground, clients are waiting and seeing for the Swiss deal before signing up.”

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