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Advertise NDO or see it fail, HMRC warned

18 June 2009
Categories: News , NDO , ODF , Admin
'Lessons of ODF must be learned'

A leading tax investigations expert has warned HMRC that their latest scheme to fight tax evasion will fail if it is not well advertised.

The New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO) will offer taxpayers the chance to admit to undeclared income from offshore bank accounts.

People who come forward will receive less severe punishments than will be meted out to individuals who choose not admit to unpaid taxes and are later tracked down by the taxman.

The NDO is expected to be launched in September – but many holders of offshore accounts may fail to notice, John Cassidy has claimed.

Mr Cassidy, who is a tax investigations partner at accountancy firm PKF, said that lessons must be learned from the Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF) – the Revenue’s so-called ‘tax amnesty’ of late 2007 – which was ‘poorly publicised’ and as a consequence suffered a take-up rate that was ‘significantly lower than expected’.

The scheme went on to raise £400 million – but had been expected to retrieve £1.75 billion in unpaid taxes.

‘Sadly, HMRC spent lots of time and effort putting the ODF in place, but barely any effort in promoting awareness of it,’ remarked Mr Cassidy.

He urged the taxman to invest in a comprehensive publicity campaign across national media, including foreign-language outlets, to promote the NDO to both domiciled and non-domiciled taxpayers.

‘The NDO will be a good deal for individuals, allowing them to come clean relatively cheaply, and for HMRC, allowing them to collect tax arrears for relatively little effort – but as the Revenue says it has no plans for a further amnesty or disclosure facility, it must get this one right,’ added Mr Cassidy.

‘That means publicising it in the right places at the right time, to ensure that it becomes part of the public consciousness for at least a short time.’

Categories: News , NDO , ODF , Admin
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