Tax penalty chaos: Who said crime doesn't pay?

Director of Tax
www.rossmartin.co.uk
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Nichola Ross Martin offers a candid view of HMRC’s New Disclosure Opportunity and the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility.

Back in 2007/08 HMRC offered an Offshore Disclosure Facility allowing taxpayers to declare any previously undisclosed income from offshore sources, which was then subject to tax, interest and a 10% penalty. It all sounded so simple.

Then things got slightly more complicated because, despite its title, people were also allowed to use to the Offshore Disclosure Facility to declare any previously undeclared onshore income too, and were also treated to the same low tax penalty regime. The facility was then dubbed an ‘amnesty’.

This year, HMRC announced a New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO), which is for those who did not cough up the first time around or...

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Tax Penalty Chaos
HMRC does not have anywhere near enough staff to investigate even a small fraction of the cases which are likely to come to light. Therefore, just like the last time, they want the taxpayer to own up and the agent to prepare a full report for them, at the taxpayers' (or fraudulent non-taxpayers') expense. The only incentive for tax evaders to consider is the fear of being caught and getting hit with a much higher penalty.

I agree, this is clear proof that crime does pay. I have no doubt that many account holders will just keep quiet, move their cash and take the chance. Maybe HMRC should raise the stakes and state that they will prosecute anyone who does not take advantage of the offer and seek a gaol sentence and the seizure of all funds held in these accounts under the Poceeds of Cime Act.

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Where are ODF Prosecutions?
Back in 2007 HMRC stated that if you failed to take advantage of the ODF you run the risk of prosecution. So far there has not been one.

For the NDO to be a success HMRC should have already prosecuted a high profile case and sent someone to jail for not declaring offshore income. I asked a 24 year old relative the other day who Ken Dodd or Lester Piggett was and they didn't have a clue. How many years ago was that?

Also, no one knows about it (except the professionals). I fear the take will be a disappointment for HMRC and the blame lies squarely at their door.

Dave Hartnett states that this is the last such opportunity. What a wasted one!

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Tax amnesty
It's good to see such social equality isn't it?
Under the new general penalty regime, a self employed taxpayer of modest means might easily pick up a 30 to 50% penalty on top of their tax arrears for 6 years of, say, "overclaimed" motor expenses deducted from the profits of their business, when they didn't have the time to keep a detailed mileage log.
Meanwhile, a much richer taxpayer with offshore investments deliberately concealed from the UK tax authorities escapes with 10%.
Let justice be served

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