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Revenue widening search for offshore tax evaders

HM Revenue & Customs is targeting 25 building societies and foreign banks with UK operations as part of a fresh crackdown on offshore tax evaders, Money Marketing understands.

Last April, HMRC launched an offshore disclosure facility enabling investors with offshore accounts to disclose previously undeclared tax due on income and gains for a capped penalty of 10 per cent.

Following rulings with five of the UK’s top retail banks, HMRC got details of around 400,000 offshore bank accounts belonging to people with UK addresses.

Over 44,000 people came forward at the disclosure stage of the ODF and paid in excess of £450m. As well as following up on declarations that were rejected under this facility, HMRC is now understood to be expanding its net to investigate 25 financial institutions as part of a wider crackdown on offshore tax evasion.

In a compliance reform forum update sent to accountants this week, HMRC said its objective will be to “obtain information from a second range of financial institutions, using the same legal powers as were applied to the first five banks.

“The intention of the new facility will be to provide an opportunity for account holders to inform us of their own accord of any unpaid tax or duties and to settle their debts in a similar way to the original offshore disclosure facility.”

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