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  • ARTICLE - UK

    Higher stakes? HMRC’s crackdown on tax evasion & avoidance

    29 Jan
    Written by a native

    HMRC COP8 and COP9 - Introduction

    In its pursuit of greater tax compliance, HMRC seems to have significantly ramped up its efforts to combat tax evasion and avoidance. The past year saw the opening of 1,091 of HMRC's most serious tax investigations, known as 'COP8' and 'COP9'.

    A Closer Look at HMRC's Hand

    HMRC's strategic approach involved 417 investigations under 'COP9' targeting severe suspected cases of tax evasion, alongside 674 'COP8' civil investigations focusing on suspected tax avoidance. These numbers contribute to a total of 3,300 ongoing COP8 and COP9 investigations, representing HMRC's activities in clamping down on major tax evasion and avoidance.

    Non-Compliance: Playing for High Stakes?

    The behavior-based penalty structure employed by HMRC ensures that penalties escalate with the severity of the taxpayer's actions. These penalties potentially reach up to 100% of the tax for UK matters, and even higher for offshore issues. However, there is a silver lining for those willing to cooperate. Full cooperation with HMRC's investigations can lead to significantly reduced penalties, provided taxpayers make a comprehensive and truthful disclosure of all irregularities in their tax affairs.

    The Last Chance Saloon for Taxpayers

    A COP9 investigation, reserved for suspected tax fraud cases, offers a final opportunity for individuals to rectify their tax affairs. Such an investigation comes with the assurance of remaining under civil investigation if they cooperate fully. Conversely, failure to cooperate, as seen in high-profile cases like that of former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and Dominic Chappell, former owner of BHS, can lead to staggering fines and even imprisonment. When faced with these types of issues, it is important that you engage a specialist in tax investigation matters to assist you.

    HMRC COP8 and COP9 - Conclusion

    HMRC's intensified efforts in conducting serious tax investigations underscore a stern warning against tax evasion and avoidance. While the investigations pose significant risks, they also offer a final chance for individuals to regularise their affairs. Again, if you are faced with a COP* or COP9 then please take this seriously and appoint a specialist adviser to assist you. Unlike a hand of Texas Hold 'em... You won't be able to bluff your way to victory!

    Final thoughts

    If you have any queries over this article on HMRC COP8 and COP9, or UK  tax matters in general, then please get in touch

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