You will not be notified by HMRC as soon as it is looking into your affairs but if it decides to formally investigate you, you may receive a letter from one of its departments asking you for more information. This usually starts with limited scope such as a local compliance audit asking for more information about your latest tax return or a request for information regarding a property transaction, but it is not uncommon for these investigations to be extended should issues arise.
If HMRC thinks that criminal activity has occurred, such as VAT fraud or serious or extensive tax evasion, then it may open a criminal investigation. You will not know anything about this until you are arrested or receive a letter asking for you to attend a voluntary interview under caution.
But sometimes, even when serious and deliberate tax evasion is identified, HMRC may choose to offer or accept to deal with it on a civil basis by entering into a Contractual Disclosure facility (CDF) under Code of Practice 9 (also known as a COP9 investigation). This is a structured and specialised process which allows HMRC to recover all outstanding tax plus interest and penalties from a person as long as full disclosure is made. If this is achieved, then HMRC will guarantee that the person will not be prosecuted for the issues disclosed.
So if you know of an irregularity in your tax affairs and you do not know how to resolve it, or you are worried that you may be investigated or find yourself the subject of a tax investigation or prosecution, then it is vital that you receive expert advice as to how best to navigate your way out of trouble. It is strongly recommended that you consult a specialist tax lawyer as soon as possible. You can have a confidential initial consultation for free with our expert solicitors if you want to discuss your situation. Get in touch with us today.