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Getting tax right - disclosure opportunity

31 October 2017

The Taxes Office is urging Islanders to check they have declared all their taxable income before the end of the year.

The voluntary tax disclosure opportunity launched in April ends on 31 December 2017.  Since its launch, about 50 disclosures of both accidental and deliberate omissions have been made. The most common mistakes include not declaring non-Jersey income such as UK ISAs, dividends on shares, and rental income on foreign property.

From 2018, the Taxes Office will have a greater ability to detect incorrect declarations of income when it begins analysing data already received from overseas financial institutions.

The disclosure opportunity is being offered to help Islanders minimise the legal and financial consequences of any errors they may have made on their returns. After this period, incorrect declarations will be subject to fines and prosecution, with harsher penalties planned from 2018 as part of the Taxes Office’s strategy to increase compliance.

When the Taxes Office find errors on returns, they ordinarily investigate prior years, which could uncover several years of errors and omissions. Islanders are encouraged to check their tax affairs now before the likelihood of both deliberate and innocent errors being uncovered increases.

Assistant Comptroller of Taxes, Chris Le Breton, said “The Taxes Office is committed to doing its job in the most effective way possible. With more data available it will be easier for us to find those who deliberately omit income and deal with them appropriately, getting us closer to the ideal where every Islander pays their fair share of tax. Tax evaders raise the tax bill for everyone else. It’s only right that we harness any information available to us to reduce the proportion of people who avoid paying their fair share at the expense of the rest of us. 

“We do understand that there may be Islanders who have unknowingly made errors on past returns, either because they filled it in hurriedly or misunderstood the information needed. We’re running a campaign online and on radio highlighting common areas of confusion. We want to prompt all Islanders to check whether they may have made an incorrect return whilst we are offering favourable terms. They can visit our website for guidance on how to make sure they put their declarations right.”

Comptroller of Taxes, Richard Summersgill, said “I know tax can be a complicated subject for many, but it remains the case that if we want to keep our taxes low then we need to make sure everyone pays what’s due. We have a wide range of support for Islanders to help them be confident about completing their returns and to make it clear how their tax is calculated. We recently added step-by-step video explanations available online, as well as our written guidance notes. We really hope Islanders will use the disclosure opportunity to minimise the impact of innocent and deliberate errors alike and get peace of mind that they are fully compliant going forwards.”

For all errors disclosed during the disclosure opportunity period up to 31 December 2017, the tax owed must still be collected but penalties and interest will not be applied, and the general position will be not to instigate criminal proceedings. A 10% late payment surcharge may have to be applied if it is chargeable by law.

For those concerned with how they might manage payment of an additional tax liability, the Comptroller has agreed that where there are limited funds available to meet any liability, flexible payment terms will be considered (subject to circumstance) to ensure that disclosure does not push Islanders into financial difficulty.

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