Contractors with HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland could be receiving a letter from the taxman in the near future.
HMRC is targeting 6,000 HSBC customers in this latest bid to stamp out tax evasion. The letters will make reference to specific account names and numbers are recipients will be expected to reply quickly confirming that they have completed full tax returns or are willing to make a full disclosure.
If the Revenue does not receive a response, it will use the full range of statutory powers available to it, which may include criminal prosecution. Contractors found to be withholding tax information could be faced with penalties of up to 200% of their outstanding liability.
Taxpayers who have been salting their money away in a bid to avoid tax will need to think quickly but carefully about the best route to disclosure. The new Swiss Agreement is one possible option, as is the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, although the latter does require the taxpayer to hold a certain amount of assets in the principality.
HMRC is increasing its investigations into UK taxpayers and introducing more stringent penalties for evaders. All taxpayers should make sure they complete their tax returns accurately and submit them in a timely manner in order to avoid penalties and possible investigation.
The Revenue now has access to a lot more external information than it had in the past and this enables it to cross check to taxpayers’ records. However, there are still instances when HMRC gets it wrong and if contractors receive penalties they think are unjust, they should refer the matter to an accountant as soon as possible.
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