Higher rate taxpayers who have failed to submit tax returns are being offered the opportunity to come forward and pay up under a time-limited HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) campaign.
 
The Tax Return Initiative, launched on 3 July, is aimed specifically at people liable to pay tax at rates of 40% and above who have been told to submit a Self Assessment tax return for 2009/10 or earlier, but have not done so. However the campaign is also available to any individual who has tax returns to submit to HMRC for these years.Every year, around 216,000 people across Hertfordshire are required to file a Self Assessment return.
 
People have until 2 October 2012 to tell HMRC they want to take part, submit completed returns, and pay the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that they owe.   By coming forward voluntarily through the campaign customers will receive better terms, and any penalty they pay will be lower than if HMRC comes to them first.
 
After 2 October, if they have not submitted their tax returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its powers to pursue outstanding returns and any unpaid tax and NICs.  Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax due or even criminal investigation could follow.
 
Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said:
 
“This campaign is part of a wider HMRC initiative to provide support and guidance to the public on tax obligations and is aimed at people who fail to submit their tax returns on time and pay what they owe. 
 
“The campaign provides a three-month opportunity for those who want to get their tax affairs up to date to come forward. Our aim is to make it easy for them to contact us and send in completed tax returns, putting their affairs in order.  Penalties will be higher if we come and find people after the opportunity and some could face a criminal investigation. I urge people to come forward and disclose unpaid tax voluntarily”.
 
How do people take part in the campaign?
 
Going online and registering to take part in the campaign - guidance and the online registration form is at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/tri.htm
Completing all outstanding tax returns and paying any tax and NICs owed by 2 October.
 
Help is available from HMRC by calling a dedicated helpline on 0845 601 8818.
By coming forward voluntarily through the campaign customers will receive better terms, and any penalty they pay will be lower, than if HMRC comes to them first.
 
Campaigns launched so far have yielded nearly £510 million from voluntary disclosures, and over £120 million from non-compliance follow-up from a large number of civil interventions, including over 18,000 completed investigations. There are also 23 criminal cases underway, and one man, a plumber, was recently sentenced to jail.