HMRC Tax Investigations, including COP9
HMRC investigations are daunting and extremely stressful at the best of times and, with the ever-present threats of potential prosecution or significant assessments, can have an extremely serious effect on your business and health. At CTM our in-house solicitors and ex HMRC investigators bring their previous experience to bear on your situation and provide well-needed expert support in your dealings with the HMRC.
Quite simply, we know how HMRC work, and our experience and expertise enable us to take control of an investigation and drive it forwards at a pace which suits you.
Whatever type of HMRC investigation, we can assist and often provide fixed fee arrangements that ensure peace of mind.
It is vital to get early advice and we offer a free advice service that gives clear direction to your case and a full understanding of how the process will unfold.
The Contractual Disclosure Facility is used by HMRC to investigate suspected cases of tax fraud. All such enquiries are dealt with under Code of Practice 9: (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/admittingfraud/cop9.pdf)
The two bodies within HMRC who carry out these investigations are the Special Investigations offices, who deal with cases where significant amounts of tax or serious issues are at stake, and the Civil Investigation of Fraud offices, who take responsibility for enquiries where smaller sums of tax are thought to be at stake.
On issuing COP9, HMRC offers a ‘Contractual Disclosure Facility’ (“CDF”), whereby HMRC undertakes not to pursue a criminal investigation into any tax fraud disclosed, so long as you undertake to make a full disclosure of tax irregularities under the CDF.
To gain the benefit of the HMRC undertaking not to pursue a criminal investigation, you must confirm to HMRC within sixty days of the issue of COP9 that you undertake to make a full disclosure under the CDF, and you must then fully comply with that undertaking.
To comply with your undertaking, you need to complete the two disclosure stages:
1. Provide a valid outline disclosure of the tax frauds (“outline disclosure”);
2. Provide a certified statement that you have made a full, complete and accurate disclosure of all tax irregularities together with certified statements of your assets and liabilities, and of all bank accounts and credit cards you have operated (“formal disclosure”).
This is the only way that you can be certain that HMRC will not carry out a criminal investigation into the suspected tax fraud.
Great care is needed in dealing with the CDF, whether dealt with by the Special Investigation or Civil Investigation of Fraud offices, to ensure that any disclosure made is full and complete, and therefore that no criminal prosecution can take place.
The seriousness of enquiries carried out under the COP9 Contractual Disclosure Facility procedure cannot be overstated, and it is worthy of note that HMRC’s COP9 includes the following advice:
You are strongly advised to seek independent professional advice. If you already have an appointed adviser you should contact them immediately. However, many people find it helpful to appoint a specialist adviser who is familiar with this Code, in addition to their regular adviser.
How we can help
Our team has extensive experience of helping people to resolve matters on a civil basis, where tax fraud has been alleged by HMRC and COP9 issued.
With our hands-on approach, we guide and support persons we act for through what can be a difficult time for them. By managing the disclosure process and dealing with HMRC on their behalf, we prepare a disclosure report and negotiate settlement of the enquiry to help clients reach the end of the process with minimum disruption.
The need for highly experienced professional assistance where HMRC has alleged tax fraud cannot be overstated, given that criminal prosecution may follow if a materially false disclosure is found to have been made.
For free initial advice, please call us at the earliest opportunity on 0345 557 0005.