Successive governments of all political persuasions have expressed an intention to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.
In 2010 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, set HMRC a target of achieving “a fivefold increase in criminal prosecutions to act as a deterrent to others”. While the HMRC has yet to achieve this target it has adopted more aggressive approach to tax investigations. Among those falling under closer scrutiny are the so-called “professional enablers” such accountants, solicitors and promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
HMRC is responsible for collecting HMG’s Revenue and investigating tax potential tax evasion. It used to be responsible for prosecuting the criminal cases but following a series of high profile and costly errors this power was taken away from it in 2010. Despite this it retains considerable powers.
It can do the following:
For cases of serious crime, HMRC can apply to use the intrusive surveillance powers in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and the Police Act 1997.
The most significant of these powers are the ability to intercept communications, carry out intrusive surveillance and interfere with property.
HMRC also had the power to investigate and prosecute allegations of civil tax fraud. This process is regulated by Code of Practice 9 (COP 9).
Those subject to COP 9 enquiry may, within 60 days of being informed of HMRC’s investigation, admit to their wrongful conduct, provide full disclosure of their affairs, answer questions about their conduct and pay the un-paid tax and a fine. In return they will not be prosecuted. Deciding to engage in a COP process is a significant decision and should only be made with the assistance of a specialist lawyer.
Hickman & Rose has long track-record of successfully representing individuals and organisations who have been the subject of civil and criminal investigation for tax fraud. This includes people subject to investigations in relation to film investment schemes, evasion of income and corporation tax, VAT, missing trader and price transfer schemes.
Our lawyers are able to respond immediately to any crisis such as a raid, search, arrest and interview. We can quickly assemble a team of expert accountants and counsel to provide immediate advice and assistance. Together we work to persuade HMRC to resolve disputes in the most effective manner such as a COP 9 settlement. If this is not possible, we ensure the strongest possible defence is advanced in a trial.