HMRC Tax Investigations & Prosecutions
HMRC is the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority and investigates wrongdoing with respect to taxation. Being investigated by HMRC could be in relation to underpayments of tax or missed tax payments. We’re here to help.
At Hodge Jones & Allen, we have enormous experience in dealing with a huge variety of investigations and prosecutions by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
It’s vital that the correct approach is taken to avoid a matter being elevated to a criminal investigation and prosecution. If a matter proceeds to a criminal investigation then we will work hard to ensure no criminal proceedings ensue, either through persuading HMRC to take no further action or settling a dispute by way of civil process.
Our Crime team have been ranked in the Chambers & Partners 2024 legal directory. The team was described as “extremely strong in terms of criminal defence and particularly protest cases” and were praised for their “dedication to clients”.
“Hodge Jones & Allen are possibly the best firm of criminal solicitors conducting publicly funded work, and also offer an excellent service to privately funded clients. They have a large team that has continually prospered through recruiting excellent trainees and investing in people.” – Legal 500, 2024
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How can we help?
We provide advice and representations in connection with all stages of HMRC action:
- Civil investigations including COP 8 / COP 9 investigations
- Interviews in connection with criminal investigations including PACE interviews
- Defending applications before the First Tier and Upper Tax Tribunal
- Making linked judicial review applications and any connected interim relief applications
- Defending proceedings in front of the Crown Court and linked appeals against conviction and/ or sentence.
"I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS FIRM AND RUTH TO ANYONE WHO NEEDS SOMEONE IN THEIR CORNER."
Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?
We are recognised in Chambers for our work defending matters taken by HMRC. We can advise you at the very earliest stage – even before any approach from HMRC. We can expertly advise on existing investigations and robustly defend prosecutions. We are highly skilled in advising you in circumstances outside criminal proceedings.
Our lawyers are experts when it comes to tax trials with a huge depth and breadth of experience. We have been involved in many of the largest, most complex and highest profile fraud cases coming before the criminal courts. In addition to being able to advise and ably intervene from the earliest stages of HMRC’s investigation, we can robustly and expertly defend your case should it come to trial – assembling the best team of experts, counsel and solicitors to defend your position.
Guaranteeing fair and ethical treatment for you or your business is integral to how we build our case. We look to defend your rights, protecting your reputation where necessary and working towards a positive resolution.
"Ruth is an absolute dream to work with. She is extremely dedicated, works extremely hard and is a real support to counsel." - Chambers UK, 2024
I understand I am subject to a COP 8 investigation. What does this mean?
If HMRC forms the view that you’ve paid insufficient tax – either through a tax avoidance scheme or in some other manner – it may start a Code of Practice (COP) 8 investigation.
Through opening such a tax investigation, HMRC hope to recover the lost tax – as well as interest and possible additional penalties. Anyone facing such a tax investigation should seek the advice of one of our experienced, driven lawyers. We understand the approach taken by the HMRC and are well placed to intervene in these proceedings. Careful consideration should be given to any finding and penalty imposed.
What will HMRC do if fraud or dishonesty is suspected – will there be a criminal investigation?
If fraud or dishonesty is suspected, HMRC may start a Code of Practice (COP) 9 investigation, rather than launching straight into a criminal investigation. HMRC states that criminal investigation should be reserved for cases where it “needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate”.
I have received a COP 9 Notice – what is this and what should I do?
The COP 9 procedure can be used by HMRC when tax fraud or dishonesty is suspected. The tax in question could be:
- Income tax
- Inheritance tax
- Capital gains tax
- Corporation tax.
If you are subject to a COP 9 investigation you will be able to choose between two different options.
The first option is to accept that tax fraud has been committed and that loss has been caused to HMRC because of your conduct. You can then enter a Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF). This option involves fully disclosing the extent and form of the tax fraud. The other option provided by the COP 9 procedure is to deny any wrongdoing at all and reject the offer of complying with the Contractual Disclosure Facility.
It is vital that you seek expert advice as soon as you receive the notice of the COP 9 investigation. If HMRC is satisfied that full disclosure has been made in relation to tax fraud, then it will not commence a criminal investigation. If tax fraud is denied – or the disclosure provided is not considered to be full and frank – then a criminal investigation can commence and ultimately, prosecution.
I think that I may have done something wrong and really want to avoid prosecution. What can I do?
We understand that for many people avoiding prosecution is the absolute priority. We also understand that this process must be approached cautiously and carefully. This requires a mixture of strong analysis of your position, a clear understanding of HMRC’s working methods and excellent negotiation skills. Our lawyers are experts in both COP 8 and COP 9 investigations.
We are well-versed in considering methods that can be used to avoid criminal investigation or prosecution. We can help you to assess the most suitable approach taking account of your circumstances. We have the skills and experience to help you to navigate this tricky process and will seek the lowest possible penalties on your behalf.
What if my home or my business have been subject to a dawn raid?
The first you may know about an investigation is when HMRC carry out a dawn raid. HMRC has the power to enter and search premises if tax fraud is suspected. If this occurs you should obtain a copy of the search authority and seek immediate legal advice. We can attend the search if necessary and explore whether the search warrant can be withdrawn. We have expert solicitors on call 24 hours a day who will be able to assist you.
What charges can follow an HMRC investigation?
There are a range of circumstances when HMRC may decide the only approach they can take is to start a criminal investigation and prosecution. HMRC prosecute all sorts of cases, from those suspected of involvement in organised crime gangs and systematic, sophisticated conspiracy to cases involving corruption and matters involving money laundering. It is open to HMRC to prosecute individuals and companies for a variety of offences including:
- Tax Evasion
- Money Laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
- Fraud allegations under the Fraud Act 2006.