They are only opened where HMRC suspects a serious loss of tax, VAT and/or duty through the fraudulent activity of a taxpayer. The initial letter HMRC issues opens with “HMRC have information that gives us reason to suspect that you have committed tax fraud.”.
At the opening of a COP9 tax investigation, you are issued with the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) offer and given 60 days to accept or reject the offer. Should you accept, you will receive immunity from criminal investigation and/or prosecution in return for:
- An admission of your deliberate behaviour; and
- A full disclosure of all omissions, errors or irregularities.
Specialist advice about the potential consequences of accepting or rejecting the CDF offer is imperative.
All HMRC officers who undertake COP9 tax investigations are specialist fraud-trained investigators and should not be under-estimated. Should you be placed under COP9 tax investigation, HMRC’s published view is as follows:
“You are strongly recommended to seek specialist independent professional advice … many people find it helpful to appoint a specialist adviser who is familiar with this Code of Practice, in addition to their regular advisor.”
Need more help?
Use this link to read our COP9 frequently asked questions.