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Offshore account deadline runs out tonight; TAXATION.

Offshore bank account holders have until midnight to declare their financial affairs or face big penalties.

HM Customs and Revenue is aiming to pull in hundreds of millions of pounds in unpaid tax and it looks as if it is succeeding.

A widely publicised tax amnesty is running out and around half of those targeted look to be on the hook.

Customs and Revenue won a lengthy court battle with banks to force them to disclose the holders of offshore accounts - some 400,000 were turned up.

"Of these about 100,000 need to talk to us about non-payment," a spokesman said.

By late yesterday 43,526 had done so, coming in at around 8,000 a day in the last few days.

The spokesman said: "We think a lot of people will try and beat the deadline so we are anticipating a last-minute rush.

"It looks like we will reach over 50,000. That means we will have communicated with half our target audience."

Those still hoping to get away with it risk having to eventually pay up, and penalties of between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of the tax due on top.

And in the most serious cases they can expect criminal prosecution.

The technology revolution has made offshore accounts accessible and affordable for many people with overseas holiday homes and other property interests and for those with a sideline buying and selling on eBay. Some may have previously worked overseas and still retain an offshore bank account that they have forgotten about that is still accumulating interest.

Whatever scenario, the HM Revenue & Customs is watching.

But accountants Barnett Ravenscroft said that despite the deadline people still had time to declare their position.

Senior partner Philip Barnett said: "Whilst the deadline for registering your intention to declare tax owed with HMRC ends today, you will actually have until November 26 to make the payment of tax owed - together with any interest and penalties due.

"And whilst you will still be penalised for any tax that you owe, the penalty rate will be capped at ten per cent of money owed, as opposed to a normal fine which can be as high as 100 per cent.

"However, if the figure that you have failed to declare is below pounds 2,500 there will be no fine, but the details will still need to issued to HMRC."

Taxman's targets, page 2 3
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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