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Serious civil tax investigations services

If you or your client is under serious tax investigation by HMRC FIS, it is crucial that this is managed by a specialist. Our award winning tax disputes team cover serious civil investigations and share how they can guide you, or your client, through the process.

HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) conduct serious civil tax investigations under Code of Practice 8 (COP8) or Code of Practice 9 (COP9). HMRC’s FIS is HMRC’s elite investigation office. Its officers should be respected and not under-estimated.

Code of Practice 8

Code of Practice 8 tax investigation

HMRC COP8 tax investigations are only opened in circumstances where HMRC holds suspicion that the taxpayer has underpaid a significant amount of tax through complex tax arrangements or structures, particularly involving offshore aspects. HMRC’s FIS aims to successfully challenge your tax affairs and to recover tax, interest and penalties. 

If you are placed under a COP8 tax investigation, you should immediately seek specialist advice to help and guide you around the potential pitfalls to ensure you are best protected and reduce the liability that might otherwise be due.

Should HMRC FIS establish evidence of tax fraud or irregularities resulting from deliberate or concealed behaviour, they may change the investigation to COP9 status or even commence a criminal investigation.

Code of Practice 9

Code of Practice 9 tax investigation

A COP9 investigation is undoubtedly the most serious type of civil investigation undertaken by HMRC’s FIS. A COP9 investigation is only opened in circumstances where HMRC’s FIS suspects an understatement of tax and believes the underlying reason for that irregularity is a taxpayer’s dishonesty and intention to commit fraud. 

Taxpayers are given 60 days to accept or reject HMRC’s Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) offer. The CDF offer gives taxpayers the chance to disclose any loss of tax to HMRC that has been brought about by deliberate conduct. 

Specialist advice about the potential consequences of accepting or rejecting the CDF offer is imperative. Further information on HMRC COP9 and the CDF offer can be found on our FAQ webpage.

Specialist help and advice

Seek specialist help and advice

If you or your client is placed under COP8 or 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.”

Specialist advisers can guide you around potential pitfalls to ensure you are best protected. They will also allow you to get ahead of any accusations by HMRC and should reduce the overall cost of any investigation.

When considering appointing specialist representation for either COP8 or COP9 investigations, clients and advisers should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do you feel comfortable dealing with HMRC FIS?
  • What happens if the COP8 investigation escalates to a COP9 fraud investigation or criminal investigation?
  • What potential penalties are involved and do you know how best to minimise these?
  • Are there any errors in your tax affairs that you should disclose and, if so, how did these occur?
  • Are you sure which irregularities are deliberate and which are non-deliberate, and are you confident you can defend this position if pressed by HMRC?
  • What is the best way of addressing your tax affairs to secure a better settlement or outcome with HMRC?
  • Should you accept the CDF offer and what happens if you reject?
  • Can you go to prison?
  • Can you be publicised as a tax evader?
How can we help?

How can we help?

Should you choose to get specialist advice from Buzzacott, we will:

  • Carry out a comprehensive review of your tax affairs, working with you and your professional adviser, to ensure we have a full understanding of the issues and risks you are facing;
  • Prepare a strategy going forward to minimise your potential exposure to unnecessary tax, interest and penalties;
  • Should a disclosure be necessary, we will present this to HMRC to ensure that you are treated fairly and proportionately; and
  • Aim to fast track your investigation to resolution and closure of all issues to your satisfaction at minimum cost and disruption to you.

Awarded Best Tax Disputes/Investigations Team

Buzzacott’s Tax Investigations and Dispute Resolution team has been honoured as the ‘Best Tax Disputes/Investigations Team’ at the prestigious Tolley’s Taxation Awards 2019. These awards recognise the finest achievements and talents of remarkable individuals and teams across the entire tax profession. The team is led by Mark Taylor, who is a recognised expert on all areas of tax investigations and disputes.

We can guide you through the process and act as your representative and agent, ensuring you have minimum contact with HMRC and safeguarding your best interests.

Get in touch
Request a callback or meeting

If you'd like us to give you a call, fill in your details below and we'll email to arrange a good time to speak to our Head of Tax investigations team, Mark Taylor. All communications are in the strictest confidence.

If you'd prefer to speak to our team directly, please call +44 (0)20 7710 3389.

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