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UK government extends offshore tax deadline

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have extended the deadline to those who have been "dodging tax" through various offshore investments and bank accounts, from 30 November to 4 January 2010. This has been an issue prominent in the minds of HMRC for some time because the government is well aware there are literally hundreds of thousands of offshore accounts which should have been declared to the UK tax authorities.

Despite the fact that the government has undergone a very proactive and very visible TV campaign targeting those with offshore accounts, it is believed that the extension is purely and simply to allow banks to inform their customers of their potential obligations. This has become something of a classic pincer movement, with the government advertising the potential penalties to those "dodging tax" with offshore accounts and also encouraging UK banks to advise their customers, if they are aware of any offshore activity.

It is believed that the latest extension will be the last after which the UK government, via HMRC, will be investigating individuals and levying various penalties if any anomalies are found. This has the potential to earn the UK government hundreds of millions of pounds and potentially close various loopholes with regards to offshore accounts.

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