HM Revenue & Customs Targeting Overseas Investments

It is no secret that HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) have been targeting UK residents with overseas bank accounts and investments. Further proof of this has recently been revealed in the HMRC “no safe havens” document which outlines their strategy,... Read more

Blog28th Aug 2014

By Sarah Munro

It is no secret that HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) have been targeting UK residents with overseas bank accounts and investments. Further proof of this has recently been revealed in the HMRC “no safe havens” document which outlines their strategy, and reinforces the message that now, more than ever, HMRC are investing time and money into investigating those with overseas assets. Whilst the new UK/Swiss agreement has been hitting the headlines, many other plans are now being unveiled by HMRC including:

  • In the next few months HMRC will begin to automatically receive overseas investment information on UK residents from 44 separate countries.
  • HMRC is now ready and able to pay rewards to individual ‘whistle-blowers’ for significant information which helps uncover secret offshore accounts.
  • Increased civil penalties for offshore tax evasion of up to 200% of the tax evaded are now firmly in place.
  • HMRC will consult on a new criminal offence of failing to declare taxable offshore income, with the potential for unlimited penalties, as well as a prison sentence.

HMRC has analysed and cross referenced electronic information held to identify hot spots in the UK where the highest proportion of offshore account holders live, with the north east of Scotland being identified as a hot spot! It is therefore clear that whilst HMRC’s current focus is on contacting the 25,000 UK residents who they know hold Swiss bank accounts by the end of this month, much of the long-term strategy is focused on offshore matters anywhere in the world.

Importantly, where disclosures are to be made, many HMRC voluntary disclosure campaigns are still available right through to 2016. These campaigns have much more favourable disclosure terms, therefore with the right guidance and approach a relatively pain free disclosure to HMRC is still possible!

If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact Stuart Petrie (stuart.petrie@aab.co.uk).

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