Convicted and fined – further targeting of Swiss bank accounts
by Paul Malin - Tax Partner on 5 July 2012
It has recently been reported by both the BBC and in the Times that Michael Shanly has been found guilty of evading Inheritance Tax totalling less than £1m. Mr Shanly has previously featured in the Sunday Times Rich List as having a fortune of £160m.
Perhaps it could have been all so different for him had he regularised his affairs under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF).
More Swiss bank accounts targeted
It is rumoured that HMRC are targeting a much wider audience than the original 1,000 Swiss bank account holders and the remaining 5.000 customers of Swiss banks on the back of their recent successes, including former customers of the banks concerned who were not included on the original data lists that were stolen.
HMRC’s Offshore Co-ordination Unit is trawling through the masses of data it has collated since 2007 when the first tax amnesty (the Offshore Disclosure Facility) was introduced in the UK.
The choices on offer
Taxpayers are being given 3 choices in their letters; Certificate A declares that no additional UK tax is due, or Certificate B confirms that a Disclosure has been or will be made under the LDF, or Certificate C confirms that a Disclosure will be made outside of the LDF. HMRC also warn that taxpayers may be prosecuted if false statements are given.
Even when within the LDF, if a taxpayer fails to make a full and complete disclosure of all matters, taxpayers run the risk of prosecution.
In a number of (as yet) unreported cases, HMRC are no longer simply accepting what they are told without a challenge. Inspectors have learned that in some cases, the advice being given to taxpayers is either incomplete or inaccurate.
Anyone wanting peace of mind is urged to start the process of putting matters right whilst they can still have an element of control and can avoid the risk of prosecution.
The LDF is proving to be a far better option than waiting for the Swiss Accord because the comparable percentage is still running at less than 20% of the accumulated funds. Also, the LDF guarantees immunity from prosecution, providing the necessary checks and balances have been carried out before anything is submitted to HMRC.
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