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UK Extends Offshore Amnesty Deadline

by Robert Lee,, London

30 November 2009

The UK's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is giving taxpayers with offshore investments more time to come forward under the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO).

The registration deadline has been moved from November 30 to January 4, 2010 because some banks need more time to contact their offshore customers.

HMRC is currently receiving information from 308 banks in the UK about their offshore customers which will be used to ensure that everyone pays the right amount of tax.

Dave Hartnett, HMRC’s Permanent Secretary for Tax commented:

“We know that some bank customers will not be contacted by their banks in good time for the original deadline of November 30, so in the interests of fairness we have decided to extend our deadline by a month to January 4."

“I strongly urge anyone who has been hiding taxable assets offshore to go on line and register. The NDO is voluntary but from the start of the New Year we will begin to investigate those who were eligible to use the NDO but instead buried their heads in the sand."

The move was welcomed by John Cassidy, tax investigations and dispute resolution partner at PKF Accountants and business advisers.

“This extension shows that HMRC is finally taking a common sense approach to making this amnesty work," he stated.

According to PKF, to date HMRC has only written directly to around 35,000 offshore account holders.

“Most of the banks that HMRC has approached for account holder details have yet to supply them – there could be another 150,000 individuals for HMRC to contact," Cassidy noted.

"This is vital because, my experience shows, that only a personal letter from HMRC really motivates people to come clean on tax inequalities – the more people they can write to before January 4, the more money the amnesty will collect. We have had more enquiries about the NDO in the few days since the first batch of HMRC letters arrived than in the whole period since the NDO started on September 1 – with every individual mentioning a letter from HMRC," he concluded.

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