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Tax Investigations

Code of Practice 9 (COP9)

A Code of Practice 9 Enquiry (COP9) is about as serious as it can get without criminal proceedings.

A COP9 is a document issued to a person whom HMRC suspect has been committing tax fraud.

The Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) is effectively an offer from HMRC saying that ’we know you have committed fraud, but if you confess to it and give us the full details we will not prosecute you. Instead we will just take the tax, interest on the tax, and financial penalties from you’. If you get a letter from HMRC that includes a CDF form and the leaflet COP 9 ­ ’Code of Practice 9’ ­ then the situation is very serious and you absolutely must get professional advice. A CDF/COP 9 letter means that HMRC consider that they can probably prove that you have committed tax fraud.

These investigations can be very intrusive covering all aspects of your professional, business and social life. Whilst they are undoubtedly unwelcome and not very pleasant, there is clear light at the end of the tunnel if they are managed effectively.

Code of Practice 8 (COP8)

HMRC uses Code of Practice 8 (COP8) where it believes that large amounts of tax has been underpaid as a result of complex tax arrangements or tax avoidance schemes which have been implemented by a large number of taxpayers.

These investigations generally do not involve an allegation of suspected serious fraud at the outset. Nonetheless investigations under COP8 should be treated seriously since it is possible that if evidence of fraud is revealed by the investigation, COP9 may be issued or a criminal investigation started.

COP8 investigations often focus on the gathering of large amounts of information so it is vital to understand the limitations of HMRC’s powers and which documents have the protection of privilege. There is no standardised format to a COP8 investigation ­ unlike COP9.

We deal with all aspects of COP8 and COP9 investigations. It is important that you do not ignore any such enquiries from HMRC hoping they go away, they will not. Please contact us for an initial free, confidential and no obligation discussion.