Today was the original deadline for those sheltering money offshore to disclose the details to HMRC to receive a reduced penalty in return. However, the deadline has now been extended to 4th January 2010. Take up of the New Disclosure scheme has been really slow so while the official reason provided for the extension is “fairness”, it has been suggested by many tax advisers that HMRC are hoping that more time will result in more people taking up the amnesty offer. Anyone who comes forward prior to 4th January will receive a ten per cent reduced penalty providing they have not already been requested by HMRC to make the disclosure.

Dave Hartnett, HMRC’s permanent secretary said: “Some bank customers will not be contacted by their banks in good time for the original deadline of 30 November so in the interests of fairness we have decided to extend our deadline by a month to 4 January.”

He continued: “I strongly urge anyone who has been hiding taxable assets offshore to go on line and register. The NDO is voluntary but from the start of the New Year we will begin to investigate those who were eligible to use the NDO but instead buried their heads in the sand.”

Those who do not disclose prior to the deadline will face penalties between “30% rising to 100% of the tax evaded” according to HMRC. They could also risk prosecution.

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