Less carrot, more stick, with 200% penalties for UK offshore tax cheats

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Taxpayers with undeclared UK undeclared earnings from offshore interests have less than a year to put their house in order or risk being hit with punitive penalties, the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has warned.

The “Requirement to Correct” (RTC) was included in this year’s second Finance Bill after being dropped from the first “due to insufficient time to debate” thanks to May’s snap election, said the ATT.

It has been reintroduced as Clause 67 and Schedule 18 of the Finance Bill published in September 2017, which is yet to receive Royal Assent.

Failure to correct the position by the end of September 2018 will result in penalties of up to 200% of the tax at stake, said the ATT.

HMRC will also have the power to publicly name and shame affected taxpayers in certain circumstances.

Co-chair of ATT’s technical steering group Yvette Nunn, pictured above, said that the ATT fully supported the Government’s commitment to tackling offshore tax non-compliance.

Less carrot, more stick

In the past, she said, this had been achieved by HMRC offering “the carrot of incentives” for those who came forward and brought their tax affairs into order.

“The RTC represents a change in approach,” said Nunn, “threatening taxpayers with the stick of large penalties”.

Nunn pointed out that the 30 September 2018 deadline imposed by the RTC clause in the new finance bill, which is expected to pass into law without objection, means that non-compliant taxpayers have less than a year to correct their position.

“We would encourage all taxpayers with offshore interests to review their affairs as soon as possible,” said Nunn, “with a view to either satisfying themselves that their UK tax position is up to date or making any necessary disclosure to HMRC”.