What is the difference between COP8 and Code of Practice 9 (COP9)?
HMRC’s FIS operates two Codes of Practice, COP8 and COP9. HMRC operate COP9 in cases where it suspects fraud and allows individuals to disclose any ‘deliberate’ errors in exchange for immunity to prosecution.
Cases initially opened under COP8 can be transferred to COP9, where deliberate behaviour is either suspected or established, thus providing the taxpayer with immunity from prosecution. Under COP9 the process affords the taxpayer the opportunity to disclose and report their irregularities. Some FIS investigators prefer COP8 because they drive the investigation process and some have been known to open cases under COP8 despite suspecting serious fraud from the outset. A common misunderstanding is that a person under COP8 enquiry can be charged deliberate penalties and can at anytime be referred for criminal investigation!
Should HMRC open a COP8 enquiry, but you have knowingly submitted false returns, then we strongly recommend applying to make a voluntary disclosure under the COP9. Our specialists have considerable experience in supporting clients through the COP9 disclosure process and ensuring the disclosure is accepted by HMRC, meaning that immunity is granted.