SIMON NEWSHAM<br /><strong>NEWSHAMS TAX SOLICITORS<br /><br /></strong>TAXPAYERS with unpaid taxes on foreign interests have been offered an amnesty by HM Revenue &amp; Customs (HMRC), but time is running out for them. The amnesty, known as the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO) allows UK resident individuals and companies with unpaid taxes on offshore bank accounts or overseas assets, including foreign property, business interests, financial products and even yachts, to voluntarily settle the outstanding tax, interest and pay a significantly reduced penalty.<br /><br />Taxpayers must notify HMRC of an intention to disclose by 30th November 2009, otherwise they will be disqualified from disclosing and obtaining the low penalty rates under the NDO. Taxpayers must disclose and pay all tax, interest and associated penalties by 31 January 2010 (for postal disclosures) and 12 March 2010 (for online disclosures).<br /><br />The NDO offers taxpayers the chance to put their affairs in order, but the real incentives are the low penalty rates. Normally penalties range from 30 per cent to even 100 per cent of the tax evaded. However, under the NDO, for liabilities of &pound;1,000 or more, the penalty will be fixed at 10 per cent, or 20 per cent if HMRC wrote to the taxpayer under the 2007 amnesty and no disclosure was made. Criminal prosecution is unlikely, although immunity is not guaranteed. <br /><br />HMRC says that this is the last amnesty. Failure to settle could result in lengthy and stressful investigations, higher penalties and the possibility of imprisonment. Taxpayers would be foolish not to take advantage, and should act immediately.<br />