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Offshore tax amnesty gets off to a slow start

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23/05/2007

Wealthy people who have been dodging tax owed on their offshore savings have not come forward in any significant numbers to enjoy an official tax amnesty, according to senior accountants who have spoken to the BBC.

A leading accountant said that only a “few hundred” people had taken advantage of the amnesty offered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and that there are tens of thousands more who need to respond by 22nd June.

Failure to comply will mean substantial fines and possible criminal prosecution, with personal finances being thoroughly investigated by HMRC. But despite these threats the response has, reportedly, been poor.

“The number of people responding is much less than anticipated,” Chris Oates, partner in tax risk management at Ernst & Young, told the BBC.

“The contacts I have across the major accountancy firms indicate that just a few hundred people have actually notified the Revenue that they have tax to pay.”

An HMRC spokesperson said that he could not reveal how many people had responded to the amnesty. “We are not doing any counting exercises but we have a steady response.

“Our web page has received more than 20,000 hits and people have another full month to reply. We are expecting a deluge in the final few days.”

 

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