Half a Million Face Offshore Cash Probes
Posted: 16th June 2011
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claim that they have been informed of half a million people who hold cash in offshore tax havens…indicating that the stashing of cash in low-tax areas is a pastime of the middle classes as well as the wealthy.
The discovery has led HRMC to increase their estimate of the potential tax yield to ‘billions of pounds’. The information has been obtained through a series of information-sharing agreements between HMRC and foreign tax authorities and includes information from banks and ‘whistleblowers’.
HMRC offered a series of amnesties for taxpayers to ‘come clean’ about such accounts in exchange for beneficial treatment by tax inspectors, but it would appear that their entreaties have been largely ignored.
Recently, a whistleblower based in Geneva gave HMRC the names of 7,000 UK customers who collectively hold some £13 billion in accounts in Switzerland.
The information received to date has led to many raids by HMRC officers and eight arrests.
A specialist unit is being set up by HMRC to investigate those with undeclared offshore assets and those who seem to have lifestyles which cannot be financed by their disclosed income.