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Anglo-Swiss tax evasion agreement has finally been signed

Anglo-Swiss tax evasion agreement has finally been signed

The much talked about Anglo-Swiss tax agreement was signed last Thursday and contractor accountants may be surprised to learn that it does not offer immunity from prosecution to UK residents found guilty of tax evasion.

The agreement states that people coming forth and making a disclosure are highly unlikely to face a criminal investigation. However, the wording of this agreement differs from that of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility which guarantees immunity from prosecution.

Gary Ashford, RSM Tenon’s national head of tax investigations, said HMRC has faced a lot of criticism that the deal provides an amnesty for tax evaders. But the wording of the agreement leaves the Revenue with the option to pursue anyone holding a Swiss bank account if they feel that person has committed a serious crime. This will apply to people who make a voluntary disclosure or pay the one-off deduction on their Swiss bank account balance.

He went on to say that HMRC will be allowed to pursue people who have gained their assets from both tax related and non-tax related criminal activities.

Sean Wakeman from Crowe Clark Whitehill explained that the agreement does not lay down a guaranteed penalty for people making a full disclosure. He said people with accounts in Switzerland have three options. They call either make a full disclosure, pay the one-off charge of between 19% and 34% and the withholding tax or transfer their money elsewhere. However, he goes on to point out that not much information has been published on the amount people will pay if they make a full disclosure.

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Image: Contract by Gunnar Wrobel

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