Offshore Bank Accounts – Anything To Declare?

Ray Stewart Business, Tax Matters Leave a Comment

Are you aware that the last chance to minimize penalties on monies squirrelled away in offshore bank accounts is upon us?

You have until 30th November 2009 to make a New Disclosure Offer. After that, HMRC gets nasty. They already know who you are as the offshore banks have now coughed names and details to HMRC of UK citizens who are customers. So it isn’t a matter of if – just a matter of when.

There are many reasons why you may be reluctant to come forward and talk to your accountant about this[private_basic]. Maybe your spouse doesn’t know about the nestegg; maybe it is undisclosed income you earnt many years ago when things were much more lax than now; maybe you have inherited a slush fund from a relative; maybe you are just scared of the consequences of owning up…

Whatever the reason, talk to your accountant sooner rather than later.

When HMRC come chasing you the consequences will be a lot more severe than if you make a willing disclosure, no matter what the source of the money was.

Less than 90 days – the clock is ticking.

There is nothing at all illegal about having a bank account anywhere in the world, or owning property abroad either.

However, potential problems come from two directions. Firstly, you need to be able to show, if asked, where the money came from to put into the bank or buy the property. Secondly, you need to declare any and all income that you earn in the way of interest or rents etc on those things.

In the olden days, a few people thought it was very clever – when running a cash business such as a Pub – to keep a small % of the business income for themselves in cash and not put it through the till at all. They then put said cash into an offshore bank account to earn way above average rates of interest and not declare anything about any of it to their accountant.

So, over a period, they ended up with the initial undeclared income and then the income from it over the years building up.

Offshore accounts were chosen because they were shielded from the prying eyes of the UK govt. due to client privilidge.

Everyone suspected this kind of activity went on but our wonderful elected government recently decided (being short of cash as they are) that they could raise a lot of money by threatening the offshore banks to give out details under risk of court action, their own government pressure to co-operate etc., and chasing those naughty people who had perpetrated such tax evasion.  Now HMRC know all about these “secret” undisclosed accounts and want their share of the booty.

So the carrot and the stick approach was born. Offer an amnesty and see what is shaken out the tree. The initial amnesty last year had some success and whetted HMRC appetite for the potential of magnificent amounts of money their citizens had defrauded from them.

So now we have the last chance saloon approach. Cough now and cop a small penalty – or keep stum and cop a huge penalty when they call on you.

If you would like to have a chat about your situation, please call for no-obligation advice on 0800 047 0731


Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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