Are yet more tax amnesties in the pipeline?

Hartley Foster, Tax Partner, Olswang


Under the first quasi-amnesty, the Offshore Disclosure Facility (“ODF”) of 2007, taxpayers who had undeclared offshore income were invited to come forward and self-assess 20 years of undeclared tax liabilities in return for a 10% penalty. This was then followed by the New Disclosure Opportunity (“NDO”), which started in September 2009 and which has similar terms. The NDO was described (wholly inaccurately) by HMRC as “the last opportunity of its kind.”

Around the same time as announcing the NDO, HMRC introduced a further amnesty specific to those with assets held in Liechtenstein, the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (“LDF”). This disclosure facility remains open. The disclosure period under the LDF is limited to ten years from 6 April 1999 onwards.

The most recent amnesty is the Tax Health Plan (“THP”), which is aimed at medical professionals. THP remains open and similar amnesties are due to be introduced on a profession by profession basis.  

The Chancellor told the House today that “we are ready to sign tax information exchange agreements with three additional countries – Dominica, Grenada and Belize.”  Thus, a DGF, GDF and BDF may follow shortly, but we do not yet know what the specific terms of any future amnesties that may have been negotiated with these three jurisdictions will be.

Taxpayers with tax irregularities can potentially qualify for more than one of the disclosure facilities. They need to consider their different terms and the interaction between each before deciding which is the most appropriate route to follow.

One thought on “Are yet more tax amnesties in the pipeline?”

  1. And the counterbalancing stick to the carrot of the various amnesties is that the level of the percentage used to determine the tax-geared penalty on undeclared tax will be determined by the jurisdiction in which the non compliance arises; where the relevant jurisdiction is one that has not agreed to exchange information with the UK, the penalty percentage will be doubled. The maximum potential penalty will be 200% of the tax: a double wham.

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