David Jetuah, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 09:52:00

PKF's John Cassidy says that UK residents with secret Swiss accounts shouldnot hang back and wait for an amnesty because the taxman could catch them in themeantime

Talksbetween Switzerland and the UK lined up for next year to address secret Swissbank accounts will take time to complete - but this will give thetaxman more breathing space to catch errant taxpayers before any new amnestybecomes available.

John Cassidy, tax investigation and dispute resolution partner at PKF, said:"Since the talks were announced, we have heard of several major advisers who areeffectively telling their clients to sit tight and wait for a future UK-Swissdeal before coming clean on UK tax arrears.

"This is poor advice and could leave their clients facing unnecessarily largetax bills."

Cassidy added that those with undeclared income who do not come forwardvoluntarily should realise that there was a significant risk of HMRC discoveringthat they have underpaid or evaded tax.

"If an investigation is started it will be too late to use any amnesty. HMRCnow has the funding to scale up its investigations against offshore accountholders and has amassed a lot of data on offshore bank account holdersgenerally," Cassidy added.

"It has already shown it is willing to use stolen bank data to openinvestigations into Swiss account holders in an attempt to catch tax evaders."

Further reading:

Taxevasion: Good cop, bad COP9