HMRC reserves Criminal Tax Investigations for cases where they want to send a strong deterrent message or in cases where they consider that the behaviour of the taxpayer has been so unacceptable that only prosecution is appropriate.  Such investigations are carried out by a specialist criminal team within HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service.

Criminal tax investigations are comparatively rare, but the consequences are the most severe.  In Criminal Tax Investigations HMRC will be seeking to recover the tax and interest but instead of a financial penalty they will be trying to secure a prison sentence as the penalty for evading tax.

Sometimes the case will be selected for prosecution because of the nature of the offence; usually this will involve a higher degree of falsification of documents, materially false statements or conspiracy with others.  Cases involving organised crime (including organised Tax Credit frauds), missing trader VAT frauds (including “carousel” frauds) are likely to be selected for prosecution.

Other cases will be selected for prosecution because of the person involved.  For example, anyone in a position of trust, such as an accountants, tax advisers, solicitors, barristers, doctors etc. are more likely to be prosecuted than someone else who otherwise appears to have committed the same level of offence.

These cases are worked using the procedures set out in The Police and Criminal Evidence Act, commonly referred to as PACE.  This involves recorded interviews under a police caution.  Raids and searches at both business and private premises will frequently be used to gather evidence to be used against the taxpayer in court.

Fraud Investigation Service (Civil)

HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service also has a civil team.  This team often deals with investigations where HMRC have failed to secure a criminal prosecution however they believe tax has been evaded and they want to reach a civil financial settlement with the taxpayer or where HMRC decide there is insufficient evidence to mount a criminal investigation.  It is vitally important that if you receive a letter from HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service that you seek specialist tax investigations advice to ensure that your case is not escalated.  WLH Tax has assisted many clients who have been investigated by HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (Civil).  In all cases we have been able to reach a civil financial settlement of the enquiry.

How can WLH Tax Help

Criminal tax investigations conducted by HMRC are the most serious investigations you can face.  The consequences are very serious for you, your family, your reputation and of course your assets.

If you are subjected to a criminal tax investigation by HMRC it is essential that you are properly represented.  WLH Tax is a specialist tax investigation practice.  Our team is experienced at dealing with tax investigations carried out by HMRC and can act as part of your defence team.  We will initially put forward representations to HMRC that the investigation into your affairs should be conducted within the civil arena.  We have been successful in the past convincing HMRC that their concerns about a taxpayer’s affairs are not as serious as originally believed.  This resulted in criminal charges being dropped.

If HMRC are not prepared to drop the charges, we can recommend a legal advisor to you who are familiar with criminal tax investigations.  We will work with your legal adviser to ensure that you receive the best level or professional representation in order to stand the best chance of being acquitted.

If you become the subject of an HMRC Criminal Tax Investigation, then please contact us for a free, confidential and no obligation discussion.  We are happy to have an initial free of charge meeting with prospective clients.

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