Whistleblower reveals offshore HSBC accounts

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK tax authorities, have obtained details of every British client of HSBC in Jersey after a whistleblower secretly provided a detailed list of over 4,000 names, addresses and account balances (to a value of £699 million) earlier this week. No doubt this data will now be scrutinised by HMRC with a view to targeting individuals suspected of tax evasion.

It is important to stress here that holding an offshore bank account with HSBC or any other bank, in Jersey or any other ‘tax haven’ does not automatically make you a tax evader! It is wholly legitimate for a UK resident taxpayer to hold an offshore bank account in Jersey or any other territory classed as a tax haven. Depending on your personal circumstances an offshore bank account can provide tax planning opportunities e.g. if you are a UK resident, non-domiciled individual claiming the remittance basis of taxation. If you have reported your income and tax position correctly to HMRC you therefore have no reason to be concerned.

Most people’s tax affairs are simple and all their tax is deducted at source so there is no scope for there to be any omissions. However, for those whose tax affairs are just that little bit more complicated, errors and omissions can be made. Of course, these are usually made in error rather than being deliberate misdeclarations of income etc. However, if you have an offshore bank account and are concerned that you may have understated your income then it is important that you take the necessary action to correct the position at the earliest opportunity. By making a voluntary disclosure of any undeclared income you will mitigate your exposure to interest and penalties that may be charged on any tax that is due.

If you would like to discuss this matter in more detail or would like assistance with making a disclosure please contact us at the earliest opportunity.