Over 100 countries have committed to exchange information on a multilateral basis under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Common Reporting Standard (CRS). The CRS dramatically increases international tax transparency.
On 31 December 2015 all HM Revenue and Customs (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 (WDF) 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.
Register for the facility
Notify using HMRC’s Digital Disclosure Service (DDS). You’ll need this information to notify and disclose:
National Insurance number
Unique Tax Reference
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
you must make a full disclosure of all previously undisclosed UK tax liabilities
you must 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.
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 HMRC 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 won’t 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.
Advice for filling in your disclosure
You should use this guidance 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 doesn’t 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 don’t follow the existing legislation on calculating penalties
How to make a notification and disclosure to HMRC
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.
At this stage, you only need to tell HMRC that you’ll be making a disclosure and must do this using the Digital Disclosure Service (DDS).
Unless you have all details to hand, you don’t need to give any details of the undisclosed income or the tax you think you owe at the time you notify.
The following customers can make a disclosure:
an individual about your own tax affairs or your company’s tax affairs, this includes director or company secretary
about your trust or estate
about a limited liability partnership
on behalf of someone else, for example, if you’re a tax adviser, a personal representative or an executor of an estate
You can’t 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. Similarly, if we need a disclosure for a company and for a director, this should be on two separate disclosures.
HMRC will send an email when you notify online if you agree to an electronic acknowledgement. We’ll confirm the unique DRN. Use this number whenever you contact us about the facility and when you make your disclosure.
You’ll also be given a payment reference number (PRN) to use when you pay what you owe.
If after you’ve notified you no longer need to make a disclosure, you must tell HMRC by calling 0300 322 7012. If you don’t, we’ll take action to secure a disclosure.
You must make your disclosure within 90 days after getting the notification acknowledgement quoting your DRN.
You’ll disclose using the DDS.
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 can’t pay what you owe immediately you need to agree paying arrangements with HMRC by contacting 0300 322 7012 before submitting your disclosure.
Completing 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
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 2014 to 2015. But if we’ve sent you a tax return for that year or any tax year from 2012 to 2013 which is still outstanding, you must complete the return and you mustn’t 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 to you:
you’ve failed to notify HMRC about a tax liability but this was not deliberate and you have a reasonable excuse
you’ve submitted an inaccurate return despite taking reasonable care
you’ve not filed a return but have a reasonable excuse
you’ve submitted an inaccurate return because you didn’t take enough care
you’ve failed to notify HMRC of a tax liability but this wasn’t deliberate and you don’t have a reasonable excuse
you’ve deliberately failed to notify HMRC of a tax liability
you’ve 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 heads of duty. 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 aren’t complete, estimate as accurately as you can any income or expenses that you don’t 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 can’t 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 calculator we explain on the DDS start page helpful.
You must calculate the penalty on all unpaid tax and duty liabilities included in your disclosure.
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 such 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 three 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:
inaccuracy - use the penalties for inaccuracies in returns or documents factsheet
failure to notify - use the penalties for failure to notify factsheet
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:
residence status for tax purposes in the UK
domicile status for UK tax purposes
the remittance basis for taxing income for people not domiciled in the UK
how income arising in a trust was taxed
Inheritance Tax issues
the Transfer of Assets legislation at sections 714-751 ITA 2007 counteracts avoidance by individuals who use overseas arrangements, companies, trusts or other entities to reduce UK tax liability
how income arising in an offshore corporate structure was taxed, calculating liabilities for corporate structures and their complexity is too varied for specific guidance
your income was taxed under the settlements legislation at section 624 and what follows ITTOIA 2005, this legislation applies where an individual gains a tax advantage by making arrangements to divert income to another person who’s liable at a lower rate of tax or isn’t liable to income tax
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:
bank and other savings accounts
other accounts such as stockbroker or solicitors etc
debts owed to you
other bond deposits and loans
stocks and shares
life assurance policies and pensions
land and buildings including holiday timeshare etc
art and antiques
gold and silver articles
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
In exceptional circumstances, so that you can seek clarification of complex issues before submitting your disclosure, 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.
When you make an application for clearance in relation to a complex issue you’ll be asked to state the penalty behaviour you’ll include at disclosure. If you don’t do this HMRC will send your application back.
You’ll be allowed 90 days from the time that your application for clarification 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.
You need to check whether your entitlement to tax credits is affected by making a disclosure. If you need to make changes to your tax credit claim contact HMRC on 0300 322 7012.
Some inheritance tax disclosures can be for more than 20 years. Liabilities for more than 20 years ago can’t be disclosed using the Digital Disclosure Service. If you’ve liabilities for a period longer than 20 years ago, disclose them by contacting HMRC on 0300 322 7012.
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 40 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. Should you fail to co-operate this may prejudice our acceptance of your offer and may also result in the fixed terms not applying.
We expect the majority of disclosures to be accepted without an in depth enquiry. But, if we can’t 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.
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 can’t pay what you owe immediately, you’ll need to contact HMRC on 0300 322 7012 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 can’t 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.