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Guernsey Residents' Finances Disclosed To UK Tax Man

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

04 June 2007


Guernsey’s Data Protection Commissioner has learned that a number of Guernsey residents have received letters from their bank or credit card company informing them that details of their financial affairs may have been disclosed to HM Revenue and Customs in the UK.

The letters appear to relate to an initiative by HMRC to crack down on tax evasion by UK residents through the use of offshore accounts. However, local residents who have complained feel that the UK tax authorities seem to have unfairly obtained access to their private financial affairs and that the disclosures by the banks and credit card companies may have breached their duty of confidentiality.

In April, HM Revenue and Customs announced arrangements enabling investors with offshore accounts to disclose to HMRC any income and gains not previously included in their tax returns.

HMRC said it has recently obtained information about holders of offshore accounts from a number of banks and has obtained similar details through the European Savings Directive. The banks in question are thought to include Barclays, HSBC, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB, according to reports.

Guernsey’s Data Protection Commissioner is urging other residents of the island who may have received similar letters to contact his office on a confidential basis in order that he may assess the scale of this issue and determine whether or not any further action may be required.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining offshore confidentiality is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report1.asp

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