By Marcus Leach
The landmark deal between Swiss authorities and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to tax UK citizen's offshore Swiss bank accounts has been welcomed by Chancellor George Osbourne.
The deal, in which account holders' identity will still remain anonymous, could see HMRC net between £3 billion and £6 billion a year, as HMRC try to increase their efforts in tracking down monies hidden in offshore accounts.
Mr Osbourne welcomed the news, reiterating that the government will go after 'tax dodgers', especially in times of economic uncertainty.
"Tax evasion is wrong at the best of times, but in economic circumstances like this it means that hard-pressed law-abiding taxpayers are forced to pay even more," he said.
"That is why this Coalition Government made it a priority to go after those who don't pay their fair share. We will be as tough on the richest who evade tax as on those who cheat on benefits. The days when it was easy to stash the profits of tax evasion in Switzerland are over.”
David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, was also delighted that the efforts of HMRC and the Swiss authorities had ended in such an agreement.
“I am delighted that, through our constructive discussions with the Swiss Government, we have secured the best possible deal for UK taxpayers," he said.
"This historic agreement will enable us to collect billions of pounds from those who have for too long evaded their responsibility to pay UK tax by abusing Swiss banking secrecy. The message is clear: there is no hiding place for tax cheats.”
Anthony Harris, partner at Critchleys LLP and UK200Group member, feels this is a definite step in the right direction.
"It certainly is a good step to take and one that previous administrations should have sought to do if they were genuine in their attempts to collect unpaid taxes," he said.
"It is a ‘fair’ collection of tax liabilities from the genuinely wealthy tax payers and is dealing with them in a similar way as dealing with benefit cheats.
"As a firm we have had some involvement with collecting tax via the Lichtenstein disclosure and those whom this new arrangement affects would be well advised to consider ‘coming clean’, instruct an experienced tax adviser now and bringing their tax affairs up to date."
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