The Tax Tribunal allows HMRC to approach over 300 banks
HMRC reported on 13 August in a press release that the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal has approved HMRC’s application to obtain offshore account information from banks. HMRC can now issue information notices to over 300 banks, to obtain information about customers who hold offshore accounts. The Tribunal’s decision has not yet been published.
HMRC plans to use this information in conjunction with the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO) which will be launched on 1 September 2009. The NDO will allow people with unpaid taxes linked to offshore accounts or assets to settle their tax liabilities at a favourable penalty rate (10% in many cases).
HMRC will use the offshore bank account information to check that NDO disclosures are complete and to identify people with unreported tax liabilities who choose not to declare them under the NDO. Those in the later category are likely to face a 30% or higher penalty and also run an increased risk of criminal prosecution.
The announcement came in the same week that HMRC signed a landmark agreement with Liechtenstein which will enable lost taxes to be recovered from UK residents investing in the principality.