The Pre-Budget Report announces robust measures to tackle offshore tax evasion. Legislation will be brought forward to ensure that those who fail to declare offshore tax liabilities will face the tough penalties attracted by deliberate tax evasion. There will also be a new requirement to notify HMRC when opening offshore bank accounts in certain jurisdictions, supported by a separate penalty regime. Evading tax offshore could therefore result in combined penalties of up to 200 per cent of the unpaid tax.
HMRC is gaining access to data from over 300 financial institutions on UK taxpayers with offshore accounts. The 'New Disclosure Opportunity' gives those with undeclared offshore assets a final opportunity to come forward to pay tax, interest and a reduced penalty. The deadline for notifications is 4th January 2010. This is the last chance for offshore tax evaders - if they do not come forward now, they can expect much tougher penalties in the future.