HM Revenue & Customs has announced a last-minute extension to its tax amnesty for offshore bank accounts.
The date for clients to register with HMRC under the new disclosure opportunity has been extended from November 30 to January 4, 2010 after banks requested more time to contact their offshore customers. HMRC is still receiving customer information from 308 banks in the UK to ensure that anyone hiding taxable assets is identified.
Permanent secretary for tax Dave Hartnett says: “The NDO is voluntary but from the start of the new year we will begin to investigate those who were eligible to use the NDO but instead buried their heads in the sand.”
Offshore accountholders making a disclosure face a fixed penalty of 10 per cent of the tax owed if they are not customers of the five major retail banks targeted in the 2007 offshore disclosure facility.
Those who failed to come forward previously will face a 20 per cent fixed penalty. Those who fail to make disclosure following either opportunities will face penalties of no less than 30 per cent up to a possible 100 per cent.
The 2007 amnesty cost £6m and raised around £400m.
Accounting firm PKF says HMRC has only written directly to around 35,000 offshore accountholders to date.
Tax investigations and dispute resolution partner John Cassidy says: “Most of the banks that HMRC has approached for accountholder details have yet to supply them, there could be another 150,000 individuals for HMRC to contact.
“The more people they can write to before January 4, the more money that the amnesty will collect.”