HMRC vs HSBC customers

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HMRC follows up HSBC offshore account information.

According to a report by Grant Thornton, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that it will shortly be writing to HSBC Geneva’s offshore account holders that have not yet come forward to put their affairs in order or who are not currently under investigation.

The action follows up HMRC’s first wave of challenges to HSBC customers that have led to criminal and serious fraud investigations into more than 500 individuals and organisations.

Current activity will be led by HMRC’s new Offshore Co-ordination Unit (OCU). HMRC’s Permanent Secretary for Tax, Dave Harnett, recently referred to HMRC “industrialising” the process and the OCU is a manifestation of HMRC’s industrial approach.

There is a clear message from HMRC that taxpayers who do not put their affairs in order will face an investigation. This could result in penalties of up to 200% of the additional tax due in certain circumstances or a criminal investigation.

Taxpayers who chose to regularise their affairs with HMRC, be it via Code of Practice 9 (COP9) or the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF), can receive immunity from prosecution for tax related offences as well as securing a greater ability to mitigate penalties.

The same approach can be seen in the proposed modification to COP9 via the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF – currently under consultation).

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