COP9 & Tax Avoidance/Evasion Investigations


If you have been advised that HMRC is starting a Code of Practice 9 investigation, then this is because they suspect a severe loss of tax. COP 9 investigations are serious, and HMRC strongly advises you to take professional and independent advice.

You will be asked to make a disclosure, and if this is managed poorly, this can lead to higher penalties and the possibility of a criminal investigation and prosecution. However, making a disclosure is admitting fraud, and the penalties are much higher than those for careless financial inaccuracies.

For these reasons, you should always seek the advice of a tax specialist.

What Is A COP9 Investigation?

A COP 9 investigation is a civil procedure instigated by HMRC when they suspect tax fraud, but decide not to initiate a criminal investigation. The taxpayer is offered the opportunity to make a full disclosure and admit to the fraud, in exchange for no criminal prosecution. This is called a Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF), and you will have 60 days to respond and accept the offer.

The CDF requires you to offer full co-operation and accept penalties and interest, which will be given a more significant reduction if due. You can also avoid insolvency and publication of your name and other details.

Contractual Disclosure Facility

If you accept the CDF you must accurately disclose all non-deliberate and deliberate tax irregularities. Not making a full disclosure can result in the HMRC commissioners starting a criminal investigation. You must also cease all actions that may result in future tax losses. If you provide false documents or make misleading or false statements, a separate criminal investigation can be started as this is considered a new criminal offence.

If you deny the CDF, refuse to co-operate, and refuse to confirm the fraud, HMRC will start an investigation that may be a criminal investigation. HMRC can initiate legal proceedings to acquire some or all of your assets, charge significantly more significant penalties, and get information on your business affairs from third parties. HMRC can also raise an assessment of the tax and interest due and require financial security from you against the unpaid taxes.

COP9 Specialist Professional Representation

MS Taxes is a COP9 specialist and tax dispute specialist. We can help you decide if you should accept or deny the CDF offer and:
• Review your tax affairs
• Make you aware of the risks and issues you face
• Present your disclosure to HMRC
• Prepare a strategy to minimise your exposure to unnecessary penalties, tax, and interest
• Resolve your COP9 investigation as quickly as possible with minimal disruption and cost to you

You will give HMRC authority to deal with us directly, and we will represent you, removing much of the stress you would otherwise encounter. Remember, if you do nothing, HMRC will continue with their investigation, and penalties could be higher.