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No hiding place with another offshore amnesty

The Government is ramping up its efforts to tackle tax evasion with a new disclosure facility for offshore bank accountholders which will run until March 2010.

The New Disclosure Opportunity announced in the Budget will give accountholders the opportunity to disclose any unpaid tax or duties and settle debts. HM Revenue & Customs will pursue those who do not disclose voluntarily.

HMRC ran a tax amnesty in April 2007 which encouraged 45,000 offshore accountholders to disclose and pay up in return for a fixed 10 per cent penalty.

The Government is giving HMRC greater powers to name and shame serious corporate and individual tax defaulters and is targeting anti-avoidance schemes with a view to introducing tougher sanctions for the non-compliant. HMRC will be publishing an avoidance spotlight flagging schemes deemed to be ineffective and will challenge such schemes.

Government estimates suggest the total changes will raise over £1bn during 2009-10 to 2011-12 and protect a further £3bn of tax receipts a year by 2010-11 from tax evasion and avoidance.

AES International managing director Sam Instone says: “Anything that can be done to improve transparency and legitimacy should be seen as a good thing. The era of hiding your money is coming to an end.”

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