HMRC investigations: code of practice 9


Not all tax fraud results in a criminal investigation and prosecution. HMRC have discretion to offer taxpayers whom they suspect have been involved in deliberate fraud an opportunity to make a full disclosure in return for a promise that the matter will be conducted under this code of practice (known as COP9). A few thousand specially trained officers within the FIS Directorate work the individual cases. ‘FIS’ (pronounced ‘FIZ’)has nothing to do with champagne but stands for Fraud Investigation Service.

Most COP9 cases are started by HMRC but a taxpayer who wishes to make a voluntary disclosure is usually received with a welcome. The procedure is the same and the financial penalties are usually lower. The modern practice is for HMRC to offer a contract to the taxpayer to participate in its Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) whereby in return for a full disclosure of all deliberate tax fraud, continuing cooperation throughout the enquiry and payment of tax interest and penalties, the enquiry will result in a civil settlement I.e. monetary payment. The taxpayer does not undergo court proceedings and no criminal record can result.

How we can help

Withers’ tax investigation team has had extensive experience in COP9 investigations over many years and has advised clients in relation to those investigations as well as Criminal Investigations appertaining to both direct and indirect tax investigations.

We support and guide the taxpayer through what is a stressful investigation with minimum disruption to their lives. We will work with your existing accountants or recommend specialist accountancy firms to ensure that the correct amount of tax is calculated and your tax affairs are brought up to date and regularised as expeditiously as possible.

Our experience in this area includes

• Acting for a number of FCA regulated individuals
• Acting for individuals in the sports and entertainment industry.
• Advising professional intermediaries
• Advising legal, accountancy and other professionals in relation to their regulatory as well as tax obligations
• Numerous high net worth or famous individuals who have used the process to avoid a criminal investigation.
• Working closely with our media and reputation management team

For more information please contact any of the authors of this article, or your usual Withers contact.