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Island tax evaders told to come clean (HMRC)

Island tax evaders told to come clean

09 April 2013 12:29
Tax cheats who have been hiding investments and assets in the Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey to evade tax are being asked to pay the tax they owe before HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) clamps down on them.
Ground-breaking agreements will tackle offshore tax evasion using bank accounts and other structures in the Crown Dependencies.

The tax evaders have until 30 September 2016 to disclose hidden assets or investments and pay the tax, interest and any penalties due. At the end of this period, HMRC will automatically receive information from banks in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man identifying all account holders.

The disclosure facility allows people to voluntarily settle their tax affairs before HMRC starts to target fraudsters who refuse to comply.

Those who ignore the disclosure opportunity could face criminal prosecution, significantly higher penalties, and the risk of having their names published.

A package of measures designed for those hiding assets offshore was agreed between the UK and the governments of the Isle of Man in February 2013, and Guernsey and Jersey in March 2013.

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said:

“The net is closing in on those seeking to hide their money offshore to evade their tax responsibilities. While the majority of people and businesses pay what they owe, this Government is determined to tackle the minority of tax evaders who don’t. The HMRC centre of excellence for tackling offshore tax evasion, which received additional funding in the Budget, is already bearing fruit.

"It is vital that everyone pays what they owe and that's why we have made nearly a billion pounds available to HMRC to create a level tax playing field."

HMRC’s Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, Jennie Granger, said:

“HMRC is making sure that there is no safe haven for people who want to try and cheat the tax system by hiding their money overseas.

“These disclosure facilities give an opportunity for individuals with investments in the Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey to make a voluntary disclosure of any undeclared tax liabilities to HMRC before we challenge them.

“People with overseas assets or investments who have correctly declared income to HMRC and paid tax have nothing to fear. Those who haven’t, and who do not make use of the disclosure facilities, face the prospect of a criminal investigation or a significant financial penalty, and the risk of having their name published, once the new information sharing agreement kicks in.”

Notes
1. Details of HMRC offshore disclosure facilities can be found at: www.hmrc.gov.uk/offshoredisclosure

2. At the 2012 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced fresh funding for a Centre of Excellence to develop a comprehensive strategy for tackling offshore evasion. The centre published its strategy, “No safe havens”, at the Budget.

3. The disclosure opportunity and release of information are expected to bring in over £1 billion in previously unpaid tax over the next five years.

4. HMRC has a huge and expanding range of data gathered from a variety of sources worldwide. For example, information exchange agreements with other governments, which support our activity to pursue tax that is rightly payable to the UK exchequer and increase the likelihood of evaders getting caught.

5. The Crown Dependencies are self-governing possessions of the British Crown. They are the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The Bailiwick of Guernsey includes the separate jurisdictions of Alderney and Sark and the islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou. For more information, visit www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/moj/our-responsibilities/Background_B...

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