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Swiss Bank Tax Amnesty
The UK has done a deal with the Swiss government that tears up the rulebook on the fabled Swiss banking secrecy. Since 2013 the UK taxman has been collecting tax from Swiss bank accounts declared to it as being held by UK residents: and, just as crucially, is now getting complete access to all Swiss bank details of selected UK citizens who have not so far declared their accounts. But the UK is also allowing UK residents with Swiss bank accounts and undeclared tax to take part in a generous Tax Amnesty.
The deal, known as the Swiss Tax Cooperation Agreement, rings closing time on Switzerland as a haven for tax dodgers. Since 2013 anyone in Britain with a Swiss bank account has faced:
- Having to allow the bank to reveal the details of the account to HMRC, and then (if HMRC decide not to prosecute) having to fully disclose all tax irregularities for up to 20 years, and then pay penalties (up to 200% of the tax), and interest; or
- For non-disclosed accounts: suffering a “Withholding Tax" of 49% of income and gains.
- From April 2014 the UK taxman will receive full details of any accounts, including income and balance transfers of 1,000 non-disclosed accounts each year, of British residents with non-disclosed accounts. No consent of the account holder is required.
- That information, provided by Switzerland, is likely to lead to a significant number of criminal prosecutions.
What does it mean for me?
If you have a Swiss bank account you need to urgently consider your options now. If you have not already disclosed this to HMRc (e.g. by authorising your bank to do so) you are likely to be investigated. You could be prosecuted, go to jail and have your assets confiscated. If HMRC decides to carry out a civil investigation of fraud you could face paying tax going back 20 years, plus interest for the whole period, plus penalties of up to 200% of the tax.
HMRCs Specialist Investigations Offshore Coordination Unit are currently writing out to thousands of UK resident holders of Swiss bank accounts, offering them the opportunity to come forward and make a disclosure. The disclosure can either be made under the terms of the Swiss Tax Cooperation Agreement or under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility. Whilst HMRC allow a reasonable amount of time to make the full disclosure, they only allow 30 days to make the initial notification of intention to disclose. It is crucial that anybody who receives one of these letters takes specialist advice as soon as possible.
Is there a better way to regularise my tax affairs?
The Swiss Tax Cooperation Agreement disclosure facility offers favourable terms on which to settle your tax affairs. But there may be an even better HMRC tax amnesty for you, whereby you only pay tax back to the tax year 2000, with a fairly token 10% penalty. Although this amnesty is known as the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility it is in fact open to anyone with who held an offshore bank account in September 2009. This includes all Swiss banks.
How can Lynam Tax Enquiry Experts help me?
Our Tax Disclosure specialists have years of experience of tax investigations and disclosures involving offshore bank accounts. We are one of the UK’s leading specialists in using the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility. We can assess your particular situation and advise you of the optimum route. We can manage your disclosure, and guide you to a successful outcome - as we have done for many satisfied clients.
*To find out more, and for a fully confidential and initially free consultation: phone Paul Lynam now, on: 0845 643 9997