If you have been contacted by HMRC’s Fraud Investigations Service or FIS, it is likely that you are suspected of serious tax avoidance or evasion.
The investigation will be under the following Codes of Practice (COP):
- Code of Practice 8, which relates to bespoke tax avoidance schemes where investigation for tax fraud is not seen as necessary or appropriate
- Code of Practice 9, where tax fraud or dishonesty is suspected and (usually) a large amount of tax is at stake
The investigation could relate to income tax, capital gains tax, VAT, SDLT, Inheritance tax or one or more of these, or any of the other taxes administered by HMRC.
Either way, HMRC have you firmly in their sights and you should not think that they can be fobbed off or avoided.
Even if you believe that HMRC are mistaken in their suspicion, and there is a simple or an honest explanation, it is essential that you deal with the investigation seriously and engage with HMRC even if only to deny any wrongdoing.
Ideally, you should appoint an experienced lawyer to represent you with HMRC. This will ensure that you have someone to act as a buffer between you and HMRC throughout what can be a very worrying and anxiety-inducing experience. It will also ensure that you maximise your chances of resolving the investigation without serious consequences for you – such as prosecution, penalties for deliberate behaviour and publication of your name as a tax defaulter. Any information that you give your lawyer will also be subject to legal professional privilege.
Patrick Cannon is highly experienced in COP 8 and COP 9 HMRC investigations and in acting for clients in such investigations, including meeting HMRC investigators with clients.
Contact Patrick Cannon for an initial discussion or advice, if you are under HMRC specialist investigation.