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Offshore investors face harsher fines

Offshore investors face harsher fines

Category: Offshore savings

Updated: 10/12/2009
First Published: 10/12/2009

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Offshore investors caught tax dodging now face a heftier penalty if caught out, as a result of changes made in the Pre-Budget Report.

A penalty of 200 per cent of the unpaid tax will now be payable, as part of a range of measures Alistair Darling unveiled yesterday in a bid to save as much as £5 billion in unpaid tax every year.

Currently, the maximum fine that can be enforced is equal to 100 per cent of the unpaid tax. HMRC said the new rules were part of 'a new tough approach to penalties for offshore non-compliance.'

Offshore accounts have come under the spotlight in recent months as a result of the New Disclosure Opportunity that is taking place. Account holders have until the 4 January to declare unpaid taxes, paying a penalty of just ten per cent.

Offshore customers of more than 300 banks have come forward so far, with the Government warning that it is the last chance for tax evaders to do so. Those who are caught after the deadline face the prospect of criminal prosecution, as well as a harsher penalty.

"Our phones have been red-hot with people wanting to take advantage of the carrot on offer though the New Disclosure Opportunity," said Paul Harrison, UK head of tax investigations at KPMG.

"I now expect our phones to be even hotter. I would definitely encourage anyone concerned about their offshore tax affairs to take advantage of their position as soon as possible and certainly before the deadline expires on 4 January.

"It seems there is an even bigger stick on the horizon now, and time is running out."

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