HMRC's crackdown on "tax evasion" means that a growing number of corporates and individuals are finding themselves at the sharp end of a criminal investigation.
HMRC's criminal enforcement activity is at its highest level ever, with record numbers of criminal tax investigations and prosecutions being brought. HMRC has been set prosecution targets and is focussing on both domestic and off-shore tax evasion.
To support its fight, HMRC has been given new and wide-ranging civil and criminal powers, with the Criminal Finances Act 2017 heralding the new corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent facilitation of tax evasion.
Against such a backdrop, clear, informed, and focused commercial advice is critical.
It is essential that you obtain early legal advice from a lawyer who is experienced in this specialised area.
We act for a variety of individuals and businesses who have found themselves subject to a criminal investigation. Our cases include investigations relating to the alleged evasion of income tax, corporation tax, VAT (including missing trader frauds), as well as criminal investigations into tax avoidance schemes, including pension schemes, film finance schemes and employee benefit trusts. Our cases frequently involve the use by HMRC of investigative and coercive powers such as 'dawn raids', arrest, detention, and interviews under caution.
We also have extensive experience of assisting clients who have received notice from HMRC of an application for a Production Order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, or in connection with confiscation, property freezing and restraint orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
We are proactive in achieving the best results for our clients. In the event of a 'crisis situation' – for example, following arrest or a dawn raid – we provide urgent advice and assistance, including management of the dawn raid and attendance at a police station interview under caution. We advise on the scope of HMRC's powers and the legality of search warrants obtained including, where appropriate, legal challenge by way of judicial review.
We understand the impact a criminal investigation can have on your professional and personal life and we are often able to resolve matters before charges are brought by converting the matter into a civil enquiry, including under Code of Practice 9. In the event of criminal prosecution, we will ensure that your interests are safeguarded and help you present the strongest possible defence.
Contacting us as soon as you become aware of an HMRC criminal investigation will increase the prospects of resolving the matter quickly and discreetly.