Offshore savings Updated:
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has around 6,000 Swiss bank account holders in its sights as a crackdown on undisclosed tax liabilities gathers pace.
Letters will soon be winging their way to UK residents and organisations holding Swiss bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva who may not have reported all their income and gains to the Revenue.
Many individuals and organisations holding such accounts have taken advantage of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, which offers an opportunity to those with unpaid tax relating to offshore assets to bring their tax affairs up-to-date with reduced penalties.
However, criminal and serious fraud investigations have already begun into more than 500 account holders, with HMRC now set to contact those who have not yet come forward, or are not currently under investigation.
These individuals and organisations will be offered a window of opportunity to contact HMRC and disclose all their tax liabilities.
However, further failure to come forward will result in HMRC beginning an investigation into their affairs, which could include a criminal investigation or result in penalties, in certain circumstances, of up to 200 per cent.
"This is not an amnesty," said HMRC's permanent secretary for tax, Dave Hartnett.
"There are no special rates of penalty or interest for those who come forward voluntarily.
"This is an opportunity for those who have made errors in past returns to correct them.
"The net is closing on offshore evaders. Don't wait for HMRC to contact you. Come forward to us and make a full disclosure."
The announcement follows the signing of a tax agreement between Switzerland and the UK earlier this month, which will raise billions of pounds for the UK from 2013 onwards.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said the Government has shown its commitment to closing the tax gap by making an additional £917 million available to HMRC to tackle evasion, avoidance and fraud.
"This will fund the new Offshore Co-ordination Unit, and its specialist teams, which will drive forward this work," he added.
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