Accountants can certify non-doms under Anglo-Swiss agreement

The UK-Swiss tax agreement was signed last Thursday and accountants have been given specific statutory provisions providing that they are members of a professional body.

Under the new deal, which aims to combat tax evasion, UK residents holding Swiss bank accounts can either make a full disclosure to HMRC or pay a one-off penalty on the funds in their account along with a withholding tax on their future income.

There are also specific provisions for taxpayers who are non-UK domiciled. Assuming that their funds do not class as taxable income in the UK, an accountant, lawyer or tax adviser can give them certification to exempt them from paying tax on their Swiss account.

John Whiting, the CIoT’s tax director, said this demonstrates a step forward. The provision allows non-doms to be certified by professionals, although a lot of them say that HMRC should undertake this, and secondly, it recognises that tax professionals are a separate profession.

Ian Young, the ICAEW’s tax faculty technical manager, takes a different view saying that the professional bodies were named as part of anti-money laundering stipulations. The Swiss provision is simply a useful way of reassuring the authorities that a non-dom is in fact what they say they are on a tax return.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised that the Anglo-Swiss agreement offers an amnesty to tax evaders. The CIoT has been quick to dismiss this, saying offenders could still face prosecution.

The UK Treasury hopes to see as much as £5 billion handed over to HMRC as a result of the new agreement.

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