Offshore Co-ordination Unit
HMRC have set up a special team called the Offshore Coordination Unit (OCU), within the elite Fraud Investigation Service, as part of the crackdown on tax evasion linked to tax haven bank accounts and assets. The OCU's main task is to start tax investigations into the 10s of thousands of offshore bank account holders on whom they have obtained detailed information.
The taxman's Offshore Coordination Unit has acquired masses of information about offshore bank accounts held by UK residents. The OCU is currently writing to all these individuals. The letters are often headed “Offshore Bank and Building Society Accounts”, and state that the taxman holds information that the recipient has, or previously had, a direct interest in, or a connection to, overseas accounts or investments. Because of this Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs believe that the recipients may not have disclosed all their tax liabilities in respect of those accounts and investments: or in relation to the initial capital deposits. Recipients of the letter are told that they must reply or HMRC will start a detailed tax investigation into their tax affairs, supported by its wide ranging statutory information powers.
Some cases may be conducted under the Code of Practice 9 Contractual Disclosure Facility (cases where HMRC suspect tax fraud) procedures (aka "COP9"). But most will be worked as normal tax enquiries. The OCU is staffed by experienced and technically trained tax inspectors: usually with experience from the elite Fraud Investigation Service.
The letters will often include some information about some of the accounts of which HMRC are aware. However, HMRC will expect full disclosure of any other offshore accounts, assets or investments.
Some of the OCU letters require the completion of a certificate. HMRC will check if the statement on the certificate is correct; and warn that false statements could result in prosecution. Anyone who does not respond to HMRC accurately and in good time faces an intrusive tax investigation: possibly on criminal lines. Once the initial certificates have been signed and returned, the taxman will allocate the case according to the degree the size and seriousness. Anyone certifying that they are going to make a disclosure using the Worldwide Disclosure Facility will be contacted by HMRC if they do not register soon after.
What does this mean for me?
If you have received a letter regarding offshore investments from HMRC's Offshore Coordination Unit, then you need your own tax investigation specialists to help you immediately. You may have no tax irregularities to disclose. Or you may need to make a detailed disclosure. Both of those issues will be dealt with at phase 2 of the investigation. However, it is imperative that your advisor makes early and positive contact with tHMRC; so as to avoid an intrusive and potentially damaging tax enquiry. Generally the Worldwide Disclosure Facility is an efficient method of dealing with this. But in many cases COP9 will be more suitable: particulary as it comes with a guarantee of non-prosecution..
How can Lynam Tax Offshore Disclosure Experts Help?
Lynam Tax investigation experts have substantial experience of the key issues. We routinely deal with tax investigations and tax disclosures regarding offshore bank accounts and assets. We deal with HMRC Fraud Investigation Service on a daily basis. We are already helping a large number of clients and their agents with the current Worldwide Disclosure Facility and investigations being ralated to foreign assets. We can help you get the maximum benefits, and avoid the severe risks of making an incomplete or inaccurate disclosure.
For a free, private, no obligation consultation, don't delay. Call Paul or Andrew today on 0845 643 9997
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