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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Have Your Say: Tax clampdown
A twenty pound note

An offer of leniency on tax owing on offshore accounts, income from buy-to-let properties and foreign holiday homes is being made by HM Revenue & Customs.

If people own up to unpaid tax by 22 June, the penalty will be far smaller than if they wait until an inquiry.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.

Hiding money away by tax cheats means that law abiding taxpayers are left to pick up the shortfalls
Dave, England
There has been much focus recently on benefit cheats. Tax evasion is an abuse long overdue for attention. Hiding money away by tax cheats means that law abiding taxpayers are left to pick up the shortfalls in some way or another.
Dave, England

I would doubt that the majority of offshore bank account holders have swindled the taxman. But those that have can expect lots of attention from the tax people and I support that. We all have to abide by the tax laws here, It's the law.
Bob, London

Tax avoidance is always wrong. If everybody paid their tax perhaps the chancellor might be able to reduce the present levels of taxation.
Bob Robinson, Bolton

Whenever the Revenue introduces new schemes or claims to offer help and support for existing tax, it expects you to tell it what you propose and then fines you if it is incorrect, rather than making any scheme clear and helping you to get it right in the first place. We get charged a hefty fine and interest, but if the Revenue gets it wrong the interest refunded is considerably lower, and you never get an apology! No wonder the Revenue is disliked and distrusted. I am happy to pay the correct tax, but I hate being penalised if I get it wrong in all innocence.
Nicky Blanning, Cambridge

Re the European Union Savings Tax Directive, I suspect the Revenue won't be able to go after those who opted for "retention of tax" even though they could potentially be getting away with 5% of their tax owed until July 2008. It will be the people who are getting away with the full 20% and whose names and addresses are supplied ultimately to HMRC that it can and should go after. It's outrageous that people should be able to "hide" their money offshore. The Revenue is clamping down on these people by raising the rate for those who remain anonymous to 35% eventually. The mystery is why they are waiting so long? These evaders have been given six years warning and will no doubt find another loophole by then!
A Wright, Salisbury

Why should these people get away with defrauding the rest of us?
Philip Louch, Maidstone
Why do people whinge when, despite your political views, tax enables society to function. Why should these people who squirrel away money in the vain hope of not paying their fair cut of what it costs to live in a democracy, get away with defrauding the rest of us? It's about time they woke up to their responsibilities or perhaps they would prefer not to live here and benefit from what the rest of us are paying for?
Philip Louch, Maidstone

It is fine for the Revenue to ensure that everyone pays the correct tax. But when it gets it wrong it should do much more to compensate the victims. The interest rates it charges (7.5%) versus the interest it gives us (3%) is one example of how it is just not fair. After all it works for, and is paid for, by us. It is, in effect, accountable to us via the ballot box. It seems to me that the old civil service feelings of "we are better than you" still prevail.
N Spence, Benfleet

After having to ask for the age-related allowance this year age 64, and receiving a new code number, I find I have nearly 2,000 of unused free pay. The tax office informed me that I cannot set this against monthly interest on savings which is being taxed at source, but must wait until after the year end and then claim it back, without interest from them! I am a pensioner and need this money which is rightfully mine to supplement my poor pension. Is this fair? I don't think so!
Mrs M Carter, Maidstone

We have a totally unfair and very biased system in the UK. It has to stop!
Steve Harris, Gillingham
HMRC should without doubt be brought to task. It must be made to pay damages when it gets it wrong! My MP (John Prescott's PPS) has campaigned tirelessly on my case, all HMRC does is wriggle and "fudge" answers to his questions. Then it sends you to the "independent" adjudicator for a fair and unbiased judgement. She works for, and is fully funded by HMRC. How can that be fair? She ignored new evidence that cleared my name. We have a totally unfair and very biased system in the UK. It has to stop!
Steve Harris, Gillingham

Why will the Revenue not recognise agent representation? It will only deal with the taxpayer. Surely, this is against the principle of law and contrary to human rights not to allow a person to be represented.
Stewart, Manchester

In response to Stewart's criticism - HMRC has always recognised agent representation. The taxpayer simply completes a form 64-8 authority and HMRC will be very happy to work with the taxpayer's representative.
Paul Franklin

I have offshore accounts, live out of the UK but pay tax to the UK (my choice at the moment). I already pay a retention tax to the EU on the offshore accounts. I hope the UK doesn't want its cut as well.
Terry Hutchings, Portugal

Why should it be a softly, softly approach on this issue?
DL, Derby
Revenue & Customs should have been aware of this problem a long time ago. What mechanisms are in place to identify people with rental income and capital gains from selling second homes? I suspect none, and relying on the majority to declare voluntarily is naive to the point of incompetence. Buy-to-let landlords are forcing up prices by borrowing against their existing home to buy low-cost accommodation thereby causing a shortage and forcing would-be buyers to rent. Why should it be a softly, softly approach on this issue? It is tax evasion and should be pursued in the same way as any other non-payment of tax.
DL, Derby

In early March we sent in three claims for tax repayment for building society/bank interest payments. Two were returned because the refund was overpaid due to the wrong age-related tax allowance being applied and one was returned because the age-related marriage allowance was not applied. To date they have still not been resolved.
D Martin, Woking

I am a 65-year-old pensioner and supplement my pension by working part-time for marginally above the minimum wage at one of the big four supermarkets. I have just received a cheque from the Revenue because it assumed I had an income of 25,000+ as opposed to approx 9.5K, despite being advised constantly since I retired of my earnings and pension. As I regard myself as a minnow in the sea of tax, what chance has anyone else of paying the correct tax? Party in a brewery comes to mind. Not only that, my pension has been underpaid for almost five years. What are we paying these people for?
Mrs Mary O'Brien, Raunds

Is the Revenue playing ignorant about this tax that they already take from offshore accounts held by British residents?
John Kelly, Luton
There have been several reports recently about the Revenue seeking back tax on offshore deposits but no one has mentioned the European Union Savings Tax Directive where in return for anonymity a blanket tax has been deducted from interest at 15% since July 2005. This will increase to 20% in July 2008 and 35% from July 2011. Is the Revenue playing ignorant about this tax that they already take from offshore accounts held by British residents?
John Kelly, Luton

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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