Tax investigations and controversy
Our international tax investigation team is made up of highly experienced professionals in the UK, US and Asia who have spent decades advising on complex and high-stakes cases.
Having acted in many high-profile cases we know that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work and will carefully review your situation and develop a tailored strategy. Our reputation is second to none, with Chambers & Partners describing us as ‘a very well-respected, high-class operation’.
We can all agree that tax is now a more contentious issue than ever before, with the press naming and shaming accused tax avoiders as well as evaders and government giving treasury and regulators greater powers to investigate, penalize and prosecute individuals and businesses. We are frequently consulted by people who have inadvertently signed up to a tax ‘scheme’ of some kind and are currently representing individuals and companies caught up in film schemes as well as high profile individuals in the work of international football.
We also help those who wish to make a voluntary disclosure of unpaid taxes, ensuring that the process is handled confidentially and with protection from criminal investigation wherever possible. Maurice Martin, special counsel in London focusing on UK tax investigations, says ‘it is always better to approach the authorities than to wait for a knock on the door’.
In the UK, we offer robust advice on civil and criminal tax fraud investigations and litigation by the tax authorities. Our team includes lawyers who have worked within the tax authorities and have valuable insight into their methods and approach. One of our lawyers, special counsel in London, Tessa Lorimer, is a former tax fraud prosecutor who specializes in representing companies and individuals subject to investigations and litigation. In a recent case, she successfully advised on a £5 million fraud involving accountants who were acting as trustees and administrators of pension schemes that were being investigated by HMRC, FSA and the Pension Regulator. ‘HMRC has more punitive powers than ever,’ she says. ‘Anyone with concerns about their tax position should act now.’
In the US, we recently persuaded the IRS and the State of Connecticut not to criminally prosecute a client who had failed to file tax returns for eight years, arguing the mitigating factors of emotional turmoil and the economic downturn.
In Singapore, Withers KhattarWong LLP allows clients to access the best-in-class tax investigation and controversy expertise through our Singaporean Counsel. In 2017, our tax partner, Joanna Yap successfully represented our client in relation to the ‘additional buyer’s stamp duty regime’ which the High Court ruled does not apply to residential property purchased by a charity. The landmark decision has wide-ranging impact to charities and the non-profit sector in Singapore.
Any controversy related to tax can be damaging, regardless of whether or not there has been any wrongdoing. It is for this reason we offer the services of our reputation management team, who can help to manage coverage of cases where there is a media interest.
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