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Isle of Man account details to be passed over to HMRC

Fair warning for all of you out there hiding money offshore: the details of any Isle of Man bank accounts are being passed along to HM Revenue and Customs.

Anyone engaging in tax avoidance by hiding their ill-gotten gains offshore will now have the ‘opportunity’ to come forward and square any of their unpaid bills with the taxman from as far back as 1999 under the terms of a new disclosure facility that was struck between Isle of Man authorities and the Government. The new scheme will be in operation from this April until September of 2016, according to the HMRC’s recently published Memorandum of Understanding.

The circumstances could be rather dire for anyone that meet certain criteria, as anyone with a certain amount of unpaid tax could be slapped with penalties as high as 40 per cent of the total owed. Of course this is actually a good deal for some, considering that you could stand to be slapped with an even bigger bill if you were subject to the normal tax penalties, though this new facility won’t be of any use to you if you’re already being investigated by the taxman from 6 April, as you won’t be eligible for its protections.

If you’re particularly afraid that you’re going to get a raw deal, the scheme also has a ‘bespoke’ service built into it that will allow your representative to discuss the details of your tax liabilities without naming names. This way, if you’re afraid that you’re going to be strung up by HMRC, you can rely on some good old-fashioned anonymity to protect your assets.

If you ask me, this is a great deal for anyone who’s been ducking the taxman for years, as the government’s new focus on stamping out tax avoidance means that you were going to be tracked down sooner or later, so you should just be glad that you’re getting a 40 per cent penalty cap. Let’s face it, you’re already in the wrong for ferreting your cash offshore – even if it was just to the Isle of Man – in an attempt to hang on to as much cash as you can and not pay your fair share in taxes, so you should be jumping for joy that you’re getting away with simply a slap on the wrist; it could have been much, much worse if the full force of HMRC came down on you like a tonne of bricks.

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