THOUSANDS of people from across the North East who have forged successful careers overseas are being advised by two regional finance experts to tidy up their tax affairs - or face the possibility of a nasty new year surprise.
Malcolm Tindle, of Bell Tindle Williamson, and Les Trotter, of Ex-Pat Tax Consultants, issued the advice after HM Revenue & Customs signalled a change in its policy regarding tax declarations for people working overseas.
And they’re advising anyone affected to take proactive steps to address the situation and mitigate the size of the tax bill for which they’re likely to be liable.
Over the last four years, HMRC has put two amnesties in place for people with undeclared overseas earnings, whereby individuals have had to pay much reduced penalty fees and charges on the money that they’ve kept out of sight in offshore banks accounts.
Having already brought in substantial amounts of money through these schemes, the Revenue has now changed its focus to look at how it can maximise its returns from overseas earnings, and especially from those people who might be looking to return permanently to the country at the end of a particular job or to start their retirement.
Tens of thousands of people from across the North East are among the 2.25 million UK citizens who work overseas, around half of whom should be making annual declarations to the tax authorities.
Tindle said: “The expertise that the North East workforce has in industries such as shipbuilding and engineering has meant that many workers from the region have been able to forge successful careers right around the world.
“It’s not uncommon for these people to have a million pounds or more sitting in an offshore bank account, but bringing these earnings back to the UK presents a problem if they should have been declaring some or all of them here for tax assessment.”
Trotter added: “Any payments of more than £10,000 coming into UK bank accounts may be spotted by HMRC, and any lawyers or bank managers involved with your financial affairs also have a duty to report large sums of money coming into domestic bank accounts.
“Each person’s National Insurance provides them with a clear view of any gaps in your contributions records over your whole lifetime, and the best move anyone who thinks they might be in the spotlight is to get HMRC to include them in the self-assessment system as quickly as possible.
“Completing an early tax declaration gives you a solid base from which to start and will highlight any mistakes that might have been made, rather than them coming to light later when far more costly penalties and charges might be applicable.”