Guidance

Worldwide Disclosure Facility: make a disclosure

Use the Worldwide Disclosure Facility to disclose a UK tax liability that relates wholly or in part to an offshore issue.

Over 100 countries have committed to exchange information on a multilateral basis under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

The CRS dramatically increases international tax transparency.

On 31 December 2015, all HMRC offshore facilities closed. Up to that date, HMRC gave incentives to encourage people to come forward and clear up their tax affairs.

That’s no longer the case, but before automatic exchange and new sanctions come into force, the Worldwide Disclosure Facility will be the final chance to come forward before we use CRS data and toughen our approach to offshore non-compliance.

The facility opened on 5 September 2016. After 30 September 2018, new sanctions under Requirement to Correct will be introduced that reflect HMRC’s toughening approach.

You can still make a disclosure after that date but those new terms will not be as good as those currently available.

Use this guidance to help you complete your disclosure. If you’re unsure about the accuracy and completeness, or any aspect of your disclosure, you must seek professional advice.

Who can use the facility

Anyone who wants to disclose a UK tax liability that relates wholly or partly to an offshore issue can use the facility. An offshore issue includes unpaid or omitted tax relating to:

  • income arising from a source in a territory outside the UK
  • assets situated or held in a territory outside the UK
  • activities carried on wholly or mainly in a territory outside the UK
  • anything having effect as if it were income, assets or activities of a kind described above

It also includes funds connected to unpaid or omitted UK tax not included above, that you’ve transferred to a territory outside the UK or are owned in a territory outside the UK.

If at any time HMRC knows or suspects that assets or funds included in your disclosure are wholly or partly made up of criminal property, we’ve discretion to refuse your application to participate.

We’ll refer all disclosures made by taxpayers currently under enquiry, including all disclosure of tax avoidance schemes arrangements to the investigating officer to decide whether we can accept them.

If you’ve made a settlement following an in-depth enquiry or disclosure before, HMRC will consider your new disclosure for further investigation and if it covers the same period, you may face a higher penalty.

If you’re unsure whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the facility, you must seek professional advice.

If you’re not resident in the UK, you can still make a disclosure if you meet the eligibility criteria above.

You’ve had a letter about your money or assets abroad

You’ll need to use this facility if you get a letter about your money or assets abroad, have checked your tax affairs, and find you need to make a disclosure.

Register for the facility

Notify HMRC using the Digital Disclosure Service (DDS). You’ll need this information to notify and disclose:

  • your name
  • your address
  • your National Insurance number
  • your unique taxpayer reference, known as a ‘UTR’
  • your date of birth
  • the name, reference and contact details of any agent acting for you

Once you’ve notified us of your intention to make a disclosure, you’ll have 90 days to:

  • gather the information you need to fill in your disclosure
  • calculate the final liabilities including tax, duty, interest and penalties
  • fill in your disclosure, using the unique disclosure reference number (DRN) we give you when you notify

You must give any extra information in support of your disclosure that we ask for. We use this to check its accuracy and completeness.

The terms of the facility

You must:

  • be eligible
  • make a full disclosure of all previously undisclosed UK tax liabilities
  • calculate interest and penalties based on the existing legislation

If your disclosure is correct and complete and you fully co-operate by supplying any further information we ask for to check your disclosure, we’ll not seek to impose a higher penalty, except in specific circumstances. Also, we will not publish details of your disclosure.

If you fail to make a complete or accurate disclosure or refuse to send in additional information, we may:

  • apply a higher penalty than we would if you’d provided the information voluntarily
  • open a civil or criminal investigation
  • publish your details on the GOV.UK website

You may still be liable to criminal prosecution.

When you make a disclosure, you’ll be invited to self-assess your behaviours. The number of years you should disclose will depend on the behaviour as the associated assessment periods are set out in statute.

The self-assessment of your behaviour is part of your disclosure and we will not guarantee the terms of the facility for inaccurate disclosures. We may conduct a further investigation of an inaccurate disclosure either civilly or as part of a criminal investigation.

Criminal investigation will be reserved for cases where HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate.

HMRC reserves complete discretion to conduct a criminal investigation in any case and to carry out these investigations across a range of offences and in all the areas for which the Commissioners of HMRC have responsibility.

If you’re unsure about how to self-assess your behaviours or calculate the number of years to disclose, you must seek professional advice.

Complete your disclosure

You should use this guidance to help you fill in your disclosure. If you’re unsure about the accuracy and completeness, you must seek professional advice.

If you want to discuss a complex issue, for example legal interpretation you can, after first notifying HMRC and getting a DRN.

Facility and terms limits

To register for the facility you must be making a disclosure of an offshore issue but if you also need to disclose onshore issues, you must do that too. This does not mean we’ll automatically charge the same penalty on onshore income or gains.

When you start the disclosure process, you’ll need to calculate what you owe for both offshore and onshore liabilities on a year by year basis depending on your behaviour.

Circumstances where a higher penalty may apply

HMRC will treat disclosures differently and we may charge a higher penalty when:

  • you’re already under enquiry by HMRC
  • your disclosure is connected to a previous inaccurate disclosure or settlement following an investigation
  • you do not follow the existing legislation on calculating penalties

How to make a notification and disclosure to HMRC

Notify

You must tell HMRC of your intention to make a disclosure. Do this as soon as you become aware that you owe tax on undeclared offshore income or gains.

The following customers can make a disclosure:

  • as an individual, about your:
    • own tax affairs
    • company’s tax affairs, which includes where you’re a director or company secretary
    • trust or estate
  • on behalf of someone else, for example, if you’re a tax adviser, a personal representative or an executor of an estate

You cannot include details for more than one person or company on a disclosure. For example, if a husband and wife both have undisclosed income they must both complete separate disclosures, each showing the share of the income they need to disclose.

We need a separate notification for each person. In a similar way, if we need a disclosure for a company and for a director, this should be on 2 separate disclosures.

Individuals and companies

Individuals and companies can notify by completing the DDS form. HMRC will write to you to tell you your unique disclosure reference number (DRN). Use this whenever you contact them about the Worldwide Disclosure Facility.

You’ll also be given a Payment Reference Number (PRN) to use when paying what you owe.

Agents

Agents should use the DDS to notify HMRC of your clients’ disclosure. We’ll then send you out a disclosure reference and a payment reference.

Unless you’ve all details to hand, you do not need to give any details of the undisclosed income or the tax you think you owe at the time you notify.

Phone HMRC’s Offshore Disclosure Facility if you no longer need to make a disclosure after you’ve notified us.

Make a disclosure for someone who’s died

If you want to make a disclosure for someone who’s died and you’re the personal representative or executor of the deceased, or their interests, you can do this using the DDS.

Make sure it’s clear that you’re notifying on someone else’s behalf. We may ask for additional evidence that you’re authorised to act for them.

Disclosure

You must make your disclosure within 90 days after getting the notification acknowledgement quoting your DRN.

You can make a disclosure:

A requirement of the terms of the facility includes payment of the full disclosure amount at the time of submission. You’ll be given details of how to pay when completing your disclosure.

If you cannot pay what you owe immediately you need to agree paying arrangements by contacting HMRC before submitting your disclosure.

How to complete your disclosure

If you tell us that your disclosure includes offshore liabilities, you’ll need to complete the following on the form:

  • whether your disclosure was prompted by a letter from HMRC
  • your DRN
  • in what capacity you’re completing your disclosure
  • the designatory details of who the disclosure relates to
  • your contact details if you’re completing the disclosure for someone else

You may need to register for Self Assessment or complete tax returns for future years not included in this disclosure.

You’ll be asked to make a commitment that you:

  • understand you’re expected to make a full disclosure and you intend to do so
  • acknowledge that a false disclosure could result in a prosecution

You can make a disclosure for all tax years up to and including 2016 to 2017. If we’ve sent you a tax return for that year or any year from 2014 to 2015 onwards which is still outstanding, you must complete the return and you must not include these tax years on this disclosure form.

You’ll need to self-assess your behaviour which will indicate the number of years you need to disclose.

Select all of the options that apply where you’ve:

  • failed to notify HMRC about a tax liability but this was not deliberate and you’ve a reasonable excuse
  • submitted an inaccurate return despite taking reasonable care
  • not filed a return but have a reasonable excuse
  • submitted an inaccurate return because you did not take enough care
  • failed to notify HMRC of a tax liability but this was not deliberate and you do not have a reasonable excuse
  • deliberately failed to notify HMRC of a tax liability
  • deliberately submitted an inaccurate tax return or deliberately withheld information by failing to submit a return

If you’re unsure which behaviour option applies to you, you must seek professional advice. The self-assessment of behaviour is an integral part of your disclosure and an incomplete or incorrect self-assessment may lead to a civil intervention or criminal prosecution.

Based on your selection, you’ll be presented with the years this disclosure relates to and you must select all that apply.

You’ll then need to calculate the total income and gains that you’re disclosing across all taxes. Enter the combined total under income or gains on the form.

If you’re unsure whether a source of income or gain is taxable you must seek professional advice.

If your records are not complete, estimate as accurately as you can any income or expenses that you do not hold a record of. Keep copies of your calculations as we may ask to see how you’ve worked these out.

You must give a description of the income or gain. Enter the largest or most frequently occurring source if there are multiple entries.

You’ll need to calculate the total tax and duty due for each tax year selected. We cannot give individual advice on calculating how much you owe.

The combined total must be entered under ‘Tax’ on the form. If you’re unsure how to calculate your income and liabilities, you must seek professional advice.

You’ll need to calculate interest on all unpaid tax liabilities included in your disclosure. Interest is charged on the full amount of tax you owe in accordance with UK law. Interest runs from the date when the tax should have been paid until the date of payment.

Use the current and previous interest rates that apply to late payment of tax.

Enter the combined total in your disclosure. If you’re unsure how to calculate your interest you must seek professional advice.

You may find the calculators we mention on the DDS start page helpful.

You must calculate the penalty on all unpaid tax and duty liabilities included in your disclosure.

Offshore penalties

Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax for offshore matters

The penalties for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax for offshore matters factsheet tells you about the higher penalties HMRC may charge.

In specific circumstances it may not be appropriate to allow you the full reductions for disclosure.

For example, if you’ve taken a significant period to correct your non-compliance, or you could have previously made a disclosure through one of HMRC’s offshore facilities, you cannot expect HMRC to agree a full reduction for disclosure.

In these cases it’s unlikely that HMRC will reduce your penalty by more than 10 percentage points above the minimum of the statutory range. For this purpose, HMRC would normally consider a ‘significant period’ to be over 3 years, or less where the overall disclosure covers a longer period.

You’ll need to check the classification of territories for the purposes of offshore penalties. You should consider any territory not classified in category 1 or 3 under category 2.

Enter each calculated penalty rate for each year of disclosure and the penalty due per year will be calculated automatically following the entry of the liability under tax on the form.

When you’ve calculated your offshore liabilities you need to calculate any onshore liabilities for each year disclosed. Calculate your penalty for each year and your behaviour using the guidance for:

You must tell us if you’ve reduced the amount of your disclosure because of consideration and interpretation of the law.

Enter all circumstances that apply, the response is an integral part of your disclosure and an inaccurate or incorrect response may lead to a civil intervention or criminal prosecution.

Choose from the following:

You must seek professional advice if you’re unsure whether these apply to you.

If none of the above apply but you’ve made an adjustment to the amount of the liabilities in your disclosure, you can record the details at ‘other issues’ on the form.

You must enter the maximum value of assets you hold outside the UK at any point over the last 5 years. Calculate this from the date of your disclosure. This may include:

  • cash
  • bank and other savings accounts
  • other accounts such as stockbroker or solicitors and so on
  • trusts
  • debts owed to you
  • other bond deposits and loans
  • government securities
  • stocks and shares
  • life assurance policies and pensions
  • land and buildings including holiday timeshare and so on
  • vehicles
  • caravans
  • boats
  • art and antiques
  • gold and silver articles
  • jewellery
  • collections for investment

All valuations must be in pounds sterling. You must convert any non-pounds sterling assets using these exchange rates.

Enter all asset valuations that apply, the valuation is an integral part of your disclosure. If you’re unsure how to value your assets, speak to your professional adviser.

An inaccurate or incorrect valuation may lead to a civil intervention or criminal prosecution.

Choose the main jurisdiction in which your offshore assets were located or income arose from, this will be a 3-digit code. You can enter a maximum of 3 jurisdictions if you’ve multiple sources of income or assets.

Complex issues and pre-disclosure agreement

If your disclosure is complex, you can request 90 additional days from notification in which to make your disclosure, giving up to 180 days in total. If you wish to request this additional time contact HMRC.

You can also seek clarification of complex issues before submitting your disclosure and we’ve updated the non-statutory clearance process.

We’ve introduced a new clearance route that you can only use if you’ve already registered to make a disclosure of offshore liabilities through the DDS.

If after considering the relevant guidance you’re uncertain of the correct treatment to apply in your disclosure, you can use the non-statutory clearance process to seek agreement as to the basis to be used in the disclosure.

When you make your application you’ll be contacted by a HMRC specialist who’ll correspond with you in an attempt to clarify the matter.

If you make a non-statutory clearance application you’ll have 90 days from the time that your clearance application is finalised to submit your final disclosure.

Other liabilities (not included in the disclosure)

If you need to disclose VAT liabilities make sure you tick the box for this on your disclosure.

If you or your partner are receiving tax credits or have received tax credits in any of the years you’ve included in your disclosure you should still make a disclosure but also tick the appropriate box on the disclosure form.

The information will be passed to the relevant department to consider. You’ll be notified separately of any changes that may be required to the amount of tax credits you receive or have received for the relevant years.

Some inheritance tax disclosures can be for more than 20 years. Liabilities for more than 20 years ago cannot be disclosed using the DDS.

If you have liabilities for a period longer than 20 years ago, contact the Offshore Disclosure Facility.

Offer letter

It’s a condition of using this facility that you make an offer for the full amount of taxes, duties, interest and penalties you owe.

You’ll get an acknowledgement from HMRC within 15 days of us getting your completed disclosure and we’ll aim to tell you of the intended course of action within 90 days of the acknowledgement.

It may be necessary for HMRC to ask you to give appropriate evidence to ensure that your disclosure is accurate and complete.

If you fail to co-operate this may prejudice our acceptance of your offer and may also result in the terms not applying.

We expect the majority of disclosures to be accepted without an in depth enquiry.

If we cannot accept your disclosure we’ll open an enquiry or resume any existing enquiry and write to you for further information or explanations as provided for in existing legislation.

Payment methods

When you notify HMRC of your intention to disclose, you’ll be sent unique disclosure and payment reference numbers (DRN and PRN). You must use these in all further correspondence relating to your disclosure.

You’ll be given details of how to pay when completing your disclosure. If you cannot pay what you owe immediately, you’ll need to contact the Offshore Disclosure Facility to agree paying arrangements before submitting your disclosure.

You must make full payment in accordance with your disclosure on the same date that your disclosure is submitted.

If you cannot fulfil your obligation by making a full payment in accordance with your disclosure or on the ‘time to pay’ terms agreed with HMRC, we may take action to recover what you owe.

Further information and declaration

We’ll ask you for details of how you became aware of making a disclosure and ask you to add any media code you were asked to quote if applicable, before confirming that the disclosure is correct and complete.

If you’re unsure about whether your disclosure is correct and complete you must seek professional advice.

We’ll also ask some additional questions as to the circumstances that led you to making this disclosure.

We’ll send you an email when you notify online and agree to an electronic acknowledgement.

Published 5 September 2016
Last updated 27 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. The tax years you can make a disclosure for have been updated.
  2. This guidance has been updated with a new section regarding making a disclosure for someone who has died.
  3. The guidance has been updated for which tax years you can make a disclosure.
  4. Section 'Complex issues and pre-disclosure agreement' has been updated to allow an additional 90 days to make a disclosure.
  5. The guidance has been updated to allow an additional 90 days for complex cases and if you've made any tax credit claims you should include it on your disclosure.
  6. The guidance has been updated for which tax years you can make a disclosure.
  7. The offer letter section of this guide has been updated.
  8. Agent online service now available
  9. Temporary instructions added for agents to submit disclosures on behalf of their clients.
  10. First published.