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Swiss Bank Disclosures - Information in HMRC's Possession

Breaking news reveals HMRC currently trawling through a new HSBC list of names and addresses of more 4,388 UK people holding £699 million in offshore current accounts. 

HMRC said “We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it." 

This news comes just at the time Swiss banks are sending letters to all account holders that have a connection to the UK and may therefore be liable to tax charges under the UK-Swiss Tax Treaty (October 2011). 

Some banks have already posted the letters to account holders, whilst others will send them out during the next month or so. 

Those with such bank accounts accounts should take immediate action if they wish to take advantage of beneficial voluntary disclosure arrangements before HMRC opens up an investigation; or those who are concerned with the one off levy in May 2013 and on-going withholding taxes. 

To recap, where there are undisclosed tax liabilities in issue then it will be necessary to consider whether to continue under the withholding system set out in the UK-Swiss Tax Treaty and retain anonymity or seek advice to make a formal disclosure to HMRC – using favourable terms under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility ("LDF") or Code of Practice 9 and the Contractual Disclosure Facility ("CDF").

Also, it is important that those taxpayers with who have disclosed liabilities in their tax returns do not simply ignore the letters. Why? Because the terms of the UK-Swiss Tax Treaty mean that the Swiss bank will need to receive confirmation from a UK tax professional certifying that the income has been disclosed to HMRC (or that the taxpayer is non UK domiciled and claims the remittance basis so disclosure is not required) before they can dis-apply the one off levy and annual withholding tax. 

Please contact us if you have a potential problem?