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HMRC targets 6,000 Swiss bank accounts

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HM Revenue & Customs is set to write 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.

HMRC is acting on information received from a tax treaty last year that found 6,000 people individuals, companies, trusts and other bodies held accounts with HSBC Geneva.

HMRC has already begun criminal investigations into 500 people and organisations with these accounts, the Revenue says that while many have taken advantage of its Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, it will shortly be writing to those who have not come forward and are not currently under investigation. HMRC says it intends to give them a “window of opportunity” to disclose their tax liabilities, should the fail to do so, an investigation will be opened into their affairs.

HMRC says this could develop into a criminal investigation and could result in penalties of up to 200 per cent.

The announcement follows a tax agreement between the UK and Switzerland earlier this month.

HMRC  permanent secretary for tax Dave Hartnett says: “This is not an amnesty. 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.”

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