Top questions about HMRC tax investigations

Mark Taylor, Head of our award-winning Tax Investigations and Dispute Resolution team, answers the top questions often asked about tax investigations, and what you should do to successfully settle your case with HMRC. 
Why am I being investigated?

Why am I being investigated?

HMRC typically opens an enquiry because it has information that there is something wrong with your tax affairs, although they may not admit this from the outset.

Each year, HMRC receives access to more data through various sources including but not limited to Companies House, Land Registry, and onshore and offshore banks. Very rarely, it is because your case has been selected at random.

What should I do?

What should I do if I'm due to be investigated?

We strongly recommend you cooperate with HMRC, and appoint a specialist to represent you.

Specialist advisers, such as ourselves, 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.

We provide a discreet and comprehensive service that is tailored to meet your unique needs and protect your interests. We will carry out a comprehensive review of your tax affairs 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, present to HMRC should a disclosure be necessary, and aim to fast track your investigation to resolution at minimum cost and disruption to you.

How long will it take?

How long will a tax investigation take?

The length of an investigation can vary on a case by case basis, ranging from one letter to several months, and in more technical cases, even years. 

Appointing a specialist to represent you will speed up the process.

How far back can HMRC go?

How far back can HMRC go?

In most cases, six years for carelessness, or for errors that have occurred despite reasonable care, four years.

Could I go to prison?

Could I go to prison?

HMRC is under pressure to increase the number of criminal prosecutions it undertakes and the use of its ‘naming and shaming’ powers. Tax fraud is a serious crime and does carry the potential for a custodial sentence. However, most of HMRC's investigations are undertaken under their civil powers, which means the decision has already been taken to work your case on a civil basis, with a view to a potential financial settlement.

Engaging specialist advisers will ensure criminal prosecution, and the threat of prison time, is avoided.

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

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