Privilege, Confidentiality and the Challenge of Modern Technology
Chambers and Partners 2017
A tax investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) could have serious implications for you and your business, potentially resulting in severe financial penalties or even criminal proceedings. Our team of expert lawyers has a proven track record of successfully defending both individuals and companies in civil and criminal investigations brought by HMRC in the UK and overseas.
Enforcement activity by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is at its highest for several years as successive governments have pledged to ‘clamp down’ on tax evasion and avoidance. A broadening of the criminal investigation policy combined with new civil and criminal powers has emboldened HMRC, with record numbers of investigations and prosecutions for tax evasion being brought. Such investigations are regularly pursued in parallel with related money laundering proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
We have acted over many years for a variety of individuals and businesses who have found themselves subject to investigation by HMRC. This includes representing those subject to investigations regarding the alleged evasion of income tax, corporation tax, VAT (including Missing Trader/Carousel frauds) as well as investigations into tax-avoidance schemes (including film investment schemes, pension schemes, patent investment schemes, and schemes investing in contracts for difference).
Historically, HMRC adhered to a policy of resolving suspected tax frauds by use of the cost effective “Civil Investigation of Fraud” (CIF) procedures, wherever appropriate. However, in recent years HMRC has shown a greater appetite for pursuing the criminal route, particularly against those considered to be “professional enablers” such as accountants, solicitors and promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
We understand the impact a criminal investigation can have on your professional and personal life and will work hard to find a suitable civil resolution wherever possible.
HMRC is increasingly resorting to coercive measures in order to obtain tax related information, including Dawn Raids and Search and Seizure. We can quickly provide advice and assistance in order to advise on the search procedures, scope and legality of the search taking place and protections/challenges available. This is particularly the case where material is subject to conditions of confidentiality and/or Legal Professional Privilege (LPP).
We work closely with other specialist professionals (for example, forensic accountants and tax counsel), in order to persuade HMRC to resolve potential tax disputes in the cheapest and least stressful way for clients, be that through the tax tribunals, civil proceedings and/or settlements. In the event of criminal prosecution, both we and our associated professionals will ensure the strongest possible defence is advanced at court.
Chambers UK 2014, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession
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