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Tax evaders can now disclose online, says HMRC

HMRC has warned tax evaders they face “much higher penalties” and “full investigation” if they fail to come forward under the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO), through which fines in most cases will b

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HMRC has warned tax evaders they face “much higher penalties” and “full investigation” if they fail to come forward under the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO), through which fines in most cases will be capped at 10% of unpaid duties.

The reminder came as HMRC said that people with undisclosed offshore assets can now come clean online.

Evaders have until November 30th to announce an “intention to disclose” through a specially created website, after which a deadline of March 12th 2010 has been set for people to declare offshore assets. 

Dave Hartnett, HMRC permanent secretary for tax, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible to come forward, make a full disclosure and benefit from the limited penalty. The NDO is already a straightforward process and our new website is easy to use.

“But the NDO is a time limited opportunity and will be the last one for offshore account holders, so I strongly urge anyone who is concerned about tax liabilities arising from offshore investments to log on.”

Those with untaxed offshore assets who do not come forward under the NDO will face penalties of at least 30% of tax owed, plus the tax itself, said HMRC. Depending on the circumstances of such cases, penalties could be as much as 100%, while there is also a threat of criminal prosecution.

Hartnett added of the NDO: “This is the first step in a simple process that will enable those with undisclosed offshore assets to avoid the necessity of a full tax investigation together with much higher penalties.“

Under the terms of the NDO, people disclosing by paper, rather than online, have until January 31st to make declarations.

The full terns of the NDO were unveiled in August, following HMRC successfully obtaining through the courts the details of more than 300 banks’ customers with offshore accounts.

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