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Tax Investigation Specialists

HMRC have wide ranging powers to conduct investigations. It will often start an investigation by sending a letter requesting information, but this can quickly escalate to demands to interview you, conduct visits to business premises, or seek information from third parties.
What should you do?

Whether you’ve received a letter from HMRC, cannot reach an agreement, or just feel HMRC simply isn’t listening, we can help. Enlist the support of Buzzacott's tax investigation specialists.

What should you do?

HMRC will open an enquiry and issue a letter when it suspects that your tax affairs contain irregularities. Some letters can seem welcoming and polite, whereas others, such as those issued in respect of a Code of Practice 9 investigation (COP9), can be far more accusatory in tone. However, all must be handled with caution and you should consider your next steps carefully to ensure matters do not spiral out of control. As such, we recommend you:

  1. Stay calm – We understand that receiving one of these letters can be an extremely stressful experience. However, it’s important you remain calm and consider your options carefully. Acting impulsively could make things worse.  
  2. Do not ignore the letter – Not responding to the letter is not an option. If HMRC receives no response, it will continue to investigate your tax affairs, and your failure to cooperate could lead to much higher penalties further down the line. In some cases, it may even lead to criminal prosecution.
  3. Seek specialist advice – While we recommend being cooperative and transparent with HMRC, responding without specialist guidance and advice could result in you incurring unnecessary tax, interest, and penalties.
Why you should consider a tax investigation specialist

Here’s why you should consider a tax investigation specialist 

Specialist advisers, like us, will guide you around potential pitfalls and manage your case to make sure you’re properly protected. 

At Buzzacott, our team, including former HMRC Senior Inspectors, will give you an unparalleled insight into the enquiry process and HMRC’s powers. We utilise our knowledge to anticipate HMRC’s likely course of action and expertly guide our clients through the enquiry process, reducing your exposure to tax and penalties for you.

When considering appointing specialist representation to deal with a HMRC tax investigation, you and your advisers should ask the following questions:

  • Do you feel comfortable dealing with HMRC?
  • Are you able to manage and control HMRC?
  • What potential penalties are involved and do you know how best to minimise these?
  • Are there any errors in your tax/VAT affairs that you should disclose and, if so, how did these errors happen?
  • 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?
  • Can you go to prison?
  • Are you concerned about being publicised as a tax defaulter?

If you feel hesitant or uncomfortable about your ability to deal with the any of the above points, it’s in your best interest to consider appointing a specialist.

How we can help

How we can help

We use our unique understanding of HMRC to robustly defend our clients’ position, ensuring that any disputes with HMRC are resolved as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. Buzzacott’s array of multi-disciplined and specialist teams, all housed under one roof, will work collaboratively to provide you with the most comprehensive advice and representation. 

Should you choose to get specialist advice from Buzzacott, we will help ease the burden by:

  • Carrying out a comprehensive review of your tax affairs, working with you and your professional adviser (if applicable), to ensure we have a full understanding of the issues and risks you’re facing.
  • Preparing and executing a tailored strategy going forward to minimise your potential exposure to unnecessary tax, interest, and penalties.
  • If necessary, presenting an accurate disclosure to HMRC which ensures that you’re treated fairly and proportionately.
  • Fast-tracking your investigation to resolution and closure of all issues at minimum cost and disruption to you.

Our service is discreet and comprehensive, tailored to meet your unique needs and protect your interests. Get in touch below for help today.

Tax investigation specialists: FAQs

What triggers a tax investigation?

HMRC usually initiates an investigation based on information it holds suggesting potential errors with your tax affairs, although it might not acknowledge this at the beginning. 

Every year, it receives access to more data through various sources, and utilises artificial intelligence that scours the mountains of data in its system to identify people or businesses that match a particular risk profile. 

That said, other things could lead to HMRC sending you a tax investigation letter, including, but not limited to:

  • A tip-off from a business associate, disgruntled employees, or neighbours.
  • Your tax filings indicate a sudden, dramatic increase in costs.
  • Your business seems to lose money every year.
  • Mistakes on your tax filings.
  • Your standard of living appears incommensurate with your reported income.
  • Your company incurs business costs out of step with others in your industry.
  • Your business operates large cash transactions.
  • You routinely submit your self-assessment late.
  • You are randomly selected by the HMRC system for an audit.
  • Your income numbers fluctuate wildly from one year to the next.

What are the possible outcomes of a tax investigation?

The potential outcomes of a tax investigation fall into three general categories, although it’s important to note that the details of each outcome will vary significantly from case to case. Those potential outcomes are:

  • Amendments to a return: In straightforward cases necessitating minor adjustments, HMRC will amend your previously submitted returns. Consequently, you will be required to settle the outstanding tax, along with any accrued interest and potential penalties.
  • Closure notices: When more than a simple amendment is necessary, HMRC will issue a closure notice at the investigation's conclusion. This document outlines the enquiry's outcome, detailing additional tax, interest, and penalties owed for each tax year. Moreover, the closure notice covers the reasons behind HMRC's decision.
  • Raising of assessments: In intricate cases spanning multiple tax years, HMRC will issue assessments indicating the additional tax deemed payable, along with associated penalties and interest.

HMRC have requested a meeting, do I need to attend?

Unless you are subject to a of COP9 investigation, you're not obliged to attend. However, not attending - or not sending a representative – may leave a bad taste in the mouth of HMRC investigators who may take a more aggressively adversarial approach to your case as a result. If, however, you have enlisted the help of the tax investigation specialists at Buzzacott one of our tax investigation experts will handle all direct contact with HMRC, including attending any meetings.

I deliberately underpaid my taxes, but I’m afraid if I admit it, I’ll go to prison. What should I do?

The best course of action is to hire our tax investigation specialists as soon as you receive the notice of investigation from HMRC to resolve matters. 

A voluntary disclosure to HMRC is the best way of protecting yourself from punitive action. Keep in mind that HMRC offers immunity from criminal prosecution in certain cases in exchange for full disclosure.

How far back can HMRC investigate me?

In general terms, HMRC can go back and investigate your accounts and tax filings for the past four years. If HMRC investigators determine you have acted carelessly in dealing with your tax affairs, it may look back six years. And if HMRC determines you have deliberately avoided paying taxes they may examine your records as far back as 20 years.

Barbara is a talented individual with many strings to her bow when dealing with HMRC. She is extremely persuasive but adds empathy, charisma and charm to achieve her goals when needed.

I have consulted Barbara for a second opinion on some of my large cases and she has assisted me greatly in providing both technical and strategic advice that is both correct and which can be relied upon. 

I would not hesitate to recommend Barbara and Buzzacott to both my peers and the general public.

Professional referrer

Get help today

Call us today on +44 (0)20 7710 3389 or fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch. All communications are in the strictest confidence.

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