HMRC’s most serious civil investigation type is the Code of Practice 9 (COP9), where HMRC suspects serious tax fraud. COP9 is usually commenced by HMRC but can be entered into voluntarily.
The COP9 process
An outline disclosure needs to be made to HMRC within 60 days of the COP9 enquiry being opened. This needs to contain as much detail as possible about all deliberate and non-deliberate tax irregularities. This document is of paramount importance as only irregularities disclosed here will be immune from criminal prosecution. Following this, an in-depth meeting will be held with HMRC to discuss the outline disclosure and in most cases, a full disclosure report will be commissioned after in which all irregularities will need to be fully explained with supporting evidence and disclosed to HMRC.
Seek professional tax advice
Taking professional advice in relation to COP9 is essential, given the fine margins which could lead to a criminal prosecution for an incomplete or incorrect disclosure. Our team includes Danielle Ford, Partner and Head of Tax Disputes & Resolutions, who has over 20 years’ experience in getting the best results for her clients, including resolving COP9 enquiries, and Riocard Hoye, Senior Manager and a former HMRC Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) senior inspector, who can also offer unique insight into the process. We have a wealth of COP9 experience, helping our clients achieve their main aim of avoiding criminal prosecution but also assisting in negotiating a more favourable settlement in terms of penalty rates and payment arrangements.