A Code of Practice 9 ( COP9 ) is issued by the commissioners of HMRC when they suspect tax fraud. This invites the recipient to apply for the Contractual Disclosure Facility ( CFD ) under COP9 which gives the individual in question an opportunity to provide a complete report of all tax irregularities and other such wrongful deliberations. In exchange for a full disclosure, HMRC will not pursue a criminal investigation into your disclosed conduct, however, if they suspect that the disclosure is incomplete or falsified, they reserve the right to initiate a criminal investigation into your conduct. You have 60 days to respond to a COP 9 offer.
HMRC strongly advise that you seek professional advice from a tax investigation specialist if you have received a COP 9.
Steps you should take:
Irrespective of your beliefs in the validity of any allegations presented before you, a COP9 must be handled in a professional manner right from the beginning.
Deliberate your options before accepting or denying HMRC allegations and their repercussions.
As suggested by the COP 9, you are highly encouraged to seek specialist advice from an experienced tax adviser who understands the smallest of complications in such matters.
Accepting COP 9
Once your initial disclosure is submitted HMRC will check what you have stated in the outline disclosure information HMRC holds If the inspector is satisfied that you have disclosed all material tax issues you will be notified of this in writing and HMRC will usually request a meeting.
If HMRC is unable to accept your initial disclosure usually they will state this in writing. If the inspector is unable to accept your disclosure HMRC will generally want to start their own investigations (on either a civil or criminal basis).
Assuming the outline disclosure is accepted, HMRC will want to meet and it is generally best to have a meeting. To get the most out of the meeting and to ensure that facts are clearly presented most good advisors will spend a few hours with you to prepare you thoroughly making you aware of the wording HMRC will use (it is a very prescribed format which follows a standard brief) and helping you put some meat on the bones of the outline disclosure.
The next stage is for your advisor to prepare a disclosure report. The report should include details of the irregularities, the amounts involved and provide sufficient information to enable HMRC to understand the work done and the reasons for any conclusions.
During the report preparation a good advisor will keep in touch with HMRC and if there are any contentions points or areas of ambiguity then these can be openly discussed to ensure that when the report is received there are no surprises to HMRC. This usually means that the report gets accepted quicker and without too much scrutiny.
HMRC will then if they require test the report. This is where having an experienced advisor really helps as if HMRC are aware of them and the way that they work and a proper detailed disclosure report is provided they are less likely to spend days revisiting each and every point as they generally trust the work of the (usually more experienced) specialist.
Denying COP 9
Not everyone who is accused of tax fraud and offered COP 9 by HMRC has done something wrong. If you do not think you have done anything wrong it is even more important to discuss matters with a professional advisor.
HMRC will conduct the enquiry themselves. Often HMRC will say that if someone has nothing to hide then they should not be afraid to provide bank statements etc. It is our view that if HMRC are not legally entitled to the information then you should think carefully about providing it . We can guide you in that decision. In some cases providing additional information may assist in concluding matters quicker:
Always remember that when you have been issued with a COP 9 then the assumption is that you are guilty of tax fraud.
How We Can Help…
At Vision Consulting, we have a team of experts with decades worth of experience in dealing with COP9 investigations. This division is directly supervised by our firm’s Managing Director who has more than 25 years’ worth of experience in this field.