HMRC Criminal Investigations

Even during the current Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC have not made any announcements that they are placing a hold on this area of work. Current Investigations are still moving and HMRC officers continue to take action. Any communication from HMRC in this area should still be treated with priority and advice taken as to how to respond given many firms and individuals maybe operating with significantly reduced resources.

If you have received an HMRC criminal investigation letter, it means you are suspected of tax fraud. If you wish to argue your innocence, you must pursue the matter in court.

At Altion Law, we provide advice to those who have received an HMRC criminal investigation letter. We can explain what it means and what your options are. If you believe there has been a mistake, we can represent you throughout legal proceedings.

We strongly advise you to contact us as a matter of urgency so that we can explain your legal rights and option. For a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please call us now on 01908 414990 or complete an Online Enquiry.

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HMRC Investigations – Civil Or Criminal?

When HMRC suspects tax fraud, it conducts either a civil investigation or a criminal investigation. While it is considered the norm to pursue a civil investigation, it is HMRC’s policy to pursue a criminal investigation if –

  • It wishes to send a strong deterrent message
  • It believes the alleged conduct warrants a criminal sanction

HMRC Criminal Investigations

HMRC Criminal Investigations are on the rise. This is largely because of government targets to triple the number of Criminal Investigations into serious tax crimes by 2020. ‘Serious’ means the alleged fraud is worth £50,000 or more. To help HMRC achieve this goal, it has been given specific Criminal Investigation powers.

These Include –

  • Applying for Court Orders, requiring information to be produced
  • Applying for, and executing, search warrants
  • Searching suspects and premises • Recovering criminal assets
  • Making arrests

Nevertheless, HMRC cannot decide whether to prosecute an individual – it can only investigate. The final decision lies with Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Altion Law can assist you if you are concerned about a potential HMRC criminal prosecution. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please complete our Contact Us Form, and we will call you back at a time that is suitable for you or you can contact us directly on 01908 414990.

What Should You Do?

When you receive an HMRC criminal investigation letter, we recommend getting immediate legal advice. You only have 60 days to decide what to do. This is a major decision and is one you should not take lightly. Instead, speak to our solicitors and discuss whether it would be better to accept or reject HMRC’s offer.
If you wish to reject the offer, we can support you throughout the forthcoming investigation and prosecution.

We know this is a frightening time for you. To help you understand more about your situation, we have put together some frequently asked questions that can be downloaded.

Altion Law strongly advises that if you are being criminally investigated by HMRC that you take legal advice at the earliest possible stage. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, if you complete our Contact Us Form, we will call you back at a time that is suitable for you or you can contact us directly on 01908 414990.

What Should You Do?

When you receive an HMRC criminal investigation letter, we recommend getting immediate legal advice. You only have 60 days to decide what to do. This is a major decision and is one you should not take lightly. Instead, speak to our solicitors and discuss whether it would be better to accept or reject HMRC’s offer.
If you wish to reject the offer, we can support you throughout the forthcoming investigation and prosecution.

We know this is a frightening time for you. To help you understand more about your situation, we have put together some frequently asked questions that can be downloaded.

What Happens If You Are Suspected Of Serious Tax Fraud?

Firstly, you will receive an HMRC criminal investigation letter. This explains that you are suspected of tax fraud. You will be invited to admit to committing fraudulent offences. If you choose this route, HMRC will not carry out a criminal investigation. Instead, you sign a contract, after which you must disclose information as requested by HMRC.

If you do not accept that you have broken the law, you can reject HMRC’s offer. This is a green light for HMRC to begin a criminal investigation against you. Afterwards, your case will be handed to the CPS, who will decide if there are sufficient grounds for a criminal prosecution. If so, your case will be heard in court.

These are the only options available. This can be troubling, especially if you think HMRC has made a mistake or you deny the allegations. Unfortunately, even if your case is based on incorrect information, you must explain this to the court.

Could I Go To Prison For Tax Offences?

It depends on the matter being investigated. HMRC can and will prosecute in cases of deliberate fraud and particularly in cases where large amounts of PAYE and VAT are concerned. It is possible to go to prison for tax offences.

The aim of HMRC’s Criminal Investigation Policy is to secure the highest level of compliance with the law governing direct and indirect taxes. HMRC is not responsible for criminal prosecutions. In England and Wales, the decision whether to prosecute is made by the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

HMRC’s normal policy is to deal with fraud by use of its more cost-effective civil fraud investigation procedures, called HMRC Code of Practice 9 (COP 9). HMRC’s criminal investigation powers are used in the most serious cases, where HMRC wants to send a strong message to other wrongdoers, or where the conduct is so serious that only a criminal sanction is appropriate.

The number of criminal prosecutions for tax fraud is on the increase. In the tax year ending in April 2018, HMRC took in £608.5 billion in tax revenue. This is a nominal record and it won nine in every 10 prosecutions it initiated. This amassed £37 billion which would have otherwise gone unpaid. A further £6.2 billion in revenue was protected by actively preventing non-compliance.

As tax gets more complicated, and HMRC gets more aggressive, a growing number of people are finding themselves under criminal investigation.

In recent years, HMRC has been given a bigger budget and more powers to chase unpaid tax, and to pursue and penalise those responsible for non-payment. This approach is popular with the public and gets good headlines for politicians, so it is likely to continue.

The reality is that the difference between the amount owed to the Treasury and how much it actually collects is believed to be between £35 billion and £70 billion. This also puts more pressure on HMRC to actively consider the criminal route in order to resolve tax disputes.

As part of this, and in addition to being given more money, HMRC has been set targets for the number of prosecutions to be brought per year. This of course creates pressure to hit those targets, and raises concern that HMRC may choose to prosecute in cases where previously the civil procedure would have been followed.

HMRC’s Criminal Investigation Policy Includes Several Examples Of Where It Will Generally Consider A Criminal, Rather Than Civil, Investigation. These Include –

• Cases involving money laundering
• Cases of organised criminal gangs attacking the tax system
• Where an individual holds a position of trust or responsibility
• Where HMRC suspects deception, conspiracy or corruption
• The use of false or forged documents
• Importation or exportation breaching prohibitions and restrictions
• Where the perpetrator has committed previous offences
• Cases involving theft, or misuse or unlawful destruction of HMRC documents

Make An Enquiry Today

If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please either make an Online Enquiry or call us directly on01908 414990 and we will be pleased to help you.

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Make A Free Enquiry

For a free enquiry, call us today on 01908 414990, email us at hello@altion-law.co.uk or complete our free enquiry request for a free, confidential and no obligation discussion and let one of our expert team discuss your situation and the options available to you.