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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Charging penalties: introduction: offshore matters: failure to correct: reductions for disclosure: voluntary or non-voluntary disclosures

The maximum amount of reduction that can be applied depends on whether the disclosure was voluntary or non-voluntary:

  • If the disclosure was voluntary the penalty can be reduced from 200% to a minimum of 100% of the tax involved
  • If the disclosure was non-voluntary you must restrict the amount of reduction given for disclosure to a maximum of 50% of the tax involved.

A disclosure is voluntary if it is made at a time when the person making it has no reason to believe that we have discovered or are about to discover the failure to correct offshore tax non-compliance. A disclosure will also be treated as voluntary in cases where the customer notifies HMRC of non-compliance and the full extent and details of the disclosure are not known, provided the full details are provided within a reasonable time from when HMRC are notified.

A disclosure would be non-voluntary if a person made the disclosure after:

  • we contacted them to tell them we wished to make a compliance check of their return
  • we arranged to visit their premises to explore the risks we had identified, or
  • HMRC has been supplied with information, under an automatic exchange of information agreement that would, when reviewed, lead to the discovery of the issue being disclosed.

Penalty range

Disclosure Range minimum Range maximum
Voluntary 100% of the tax due 200% of the tax due
Non-voluntary 150% of the tax due 200% of the tax due

Example

If a person has failed to correct their offshore tax non-compliance, they can make a full disclosure at any time after that. If they make the disclosure before we tell them that we are starting a check, the disclosure will normally be considered voluntary. At any later time, typically when we start a check, it will be non-voluntary unless the person can show that what we are checking would not have led us to discover the failure.