Amnesty may condemn HMRC to hard labour

They intend to target account holders in up to 500 financial institutions, a
massive advance on the five organisations tackled in its first amnesty. This
highlighted 100,000 accounts, saw 60,000 people come forward and netted £450m.
At first sight an impressive sum; but, on average that’s around £6,500 in unpaid
tax per account. Considering that some of these individuals must have millions
deposited offshore, the figures look less impressive.

HMRC’s task is no doubt worthy, but the question is whether the department is
handling the work smartly.

Rumours are already circulating that the taxman still has years of work
unravelling the data from the first amnesty ­ how much more time will be added
by the next?

According to industry experts and HMRC observers, something’s got to give.
Not least because the project should be considering assets and forms of overseas
holdings other than just simple cash deposits. Only then will it begin to touch
the full values of sums held offshore.

Does HMRC have enough staff? For simple investigations probably yes, but
there have to be doubts if the taxman took a sophisticated look at these account

Private sector operators wonder (they would) if the taxman needs outside help
to maximise the tax it recovers from such investigations. It’s certainly worth
considering, given the volume of work 500 institutions might produce.

HMRC may have to consider being more broad minded, or risk having the project
fall far short of its potential.

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