HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is writing to UK residents named in the leaked Pandora Papers to give them the chance to correct their tax affairs.
The residents were named in the files of 14 offshore financial service providers. These providers specialise in companies, trusts, and foundations in low, or no tax, jurisdictions.
The letters, which started going out earlier in June 2023, warn recipients to report all their overseas income or gains that they owe UK tax on, or face penalties of up to 200% of any tax due or prosecution.
Kirsty Telford, deputy director for offshore at HMRC’s risk and intelligence service, said: “Tax evasion is increasingly global – but, unfortunately for tax criminals, so is HMRC’s reach, accessing data and intelligence through international collaboration.
“Our message to users of these financial services is think hard and take this opportunity to be honest and pay the tax you owe, because the reputational and financial damage if you don’t can be significant and long-lasting. We are giving people a narrow window of time to do the right thing and correct their tax records, before we take action.”
During 2021 and 2022, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released more than 11 million records from 14 offshore service providers, this is known as the Pandora Papers.
As soon as these papers were released, HMRC began reviewing the data, which is the largest ever release of financial documents, surpassing the 2016 release of the Panama Papers, to find UK residents with untaxed offshore assets.
“Recipients of these letters can make disclosures under the Disclosure Facilities made available by HMRC,” the UK taxman added. “It is important that individuals use the correct disclosure facility. If individuals aren’t clear about which facility to use, HMRC would recommend getting professional tax advice.”