Tax office to act on Swiss account info
HMRC set to seek details on 6,000 HSBC Geneva accounts and investments as part of tax evasion clampdown
Around 6,000 individuals, companies, trusts and other bodies based in the UK could soon be asked to explain their holdings and investments in HSBC Geneva accounts, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said on Thursday.
The tax office said it will act on information opened up to its investigators under the terms of a disclosure agreement reached between British and Swiss authorities in recent weeks.
Roughly 500 accounts held by British individuals or organisations are already being investigated on suspicion of tax evasion criminality or serious fraud.
“The net is closing on offshore evaders,” said the HMRC’s permanent secretary on tax Dave Hartnett. “Don’t wait for HMRC to contact you. Come forward to us and make a full disclosure.”
“This is not an amnesty. There are no special rates of penalty or interest for those who come forward voluntarily. This is an opportunity for those who have made errors in past returns to correct them,” he went on.
The banking disclosure deal between the UK and Switzerland was announced in late August, with a sum equivalent to £385 million paid to the Treasury immediately by Swiss authorities as it opened up details of accounts held by British residents.
A similar deal was reached with Switzerland recently by Germany. It is hoped the arrangement will deliver billions of pounds in extra taxes to the UK each year.
The Treasury has made much of its efforts to clamp down on offshore tax evasion, with chancellor George Osborne suggesting that the current economic climate makes it all the more important to ensure the issue is addressed.
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