If you are investigated, or your business is, by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in relation to tax fraud, the experience can be an extremely stressful and challenging one for you, your family and employees.
HMRC is one of the UK’s most powerful investigating bodies, with powers to carry out both civil and criminal investigations when there are suspicions that tax has been evaded, left unpaid or undeclared, or when there is evidence of tax fraud. In recent years HMRC have received significant increases in Government funding to target tax fraud, with the number of prosecutions rising and the majority of prosecutions ending in conviction.
If you are convicted of tax fraud, the consequences can be severe, including financial penalties, prison sentences, a criminal record and irreparable damage to your reputation or that of your business. To ensure that you, your family and your business are protected, you need access to the best available legal expertise in order to conduct a robust defence to any charges against you. The Financial Crime Solicitors at Wilford Smith have years of experience in conducting complex tax fraud cases, and have the required skills, knowledge and determination to ruthlessly develop a top level strategy on your behalf.
What is tax and VAT fraud?
Tax fraud occurs when individuals, companies or trusts seek to evade paying tax, usually by deliberately misreporting on their tax obligations to reduce the amount they are required to pay. This can happen in a number of ways, for example when an individual or company makes a false declaration in regards to their earnings so that it appears their incomings are lower than they actually are, or makes an overstatement in relation to deductions.
VAT fraud similarly involves the failure to pay the appropriate level of tax, in this case Value Added Tax, which is payable on most goods and services. In the majority of cases, this will take place when a business has not paid the required amount of VAT, has reclaimed more than it is entitled to or has falsified accounts to disguise its true VAT liability. VAT fraud can also include missing trader intra-community (MTIC) or carousel fraud, a complex type of fraud that involves goods being imported into the UK VAT-free, passing through a number of ‘buffer’ companies, before being exported out of the UK with VAT being fraudulently reclaimed from HMRC.
While many businesses may be subject to scrutiny in relation to VAT, HMRC has chosen to target certain industries in which pose a greater risk of VAT fraud. These are typically the telecommunications industry, alcohol industry, companies specialising in the selling of computer components and, in recent years, businesses involved in carbon emissions trading. If you or your business is involved in one of these industries and you think you may be subject to investigation by HMRC in relation to your tax affairs, you should seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
What is an HMRC tax or VAT inspection?
Tax and VAT inspections conducted by HMRC are a routine part of running a business, usually occurring every 4-6 years. Such investigations are increasingly seen to be of importance as the UK Government seeks to both recover lost tax revenue and to deter businesses from engaging in fraudulent practices in relation to their tax obligations. Your business may be randomly chosen to undergo a tax or VAT inspection, however there can be events which trigger an investigation, such as delays in submitting tax returns, significant year-on-year changes to income and expenditure, and inaccurate or unjustified expenses claims. If you find yourself subject to an investigation by HMRC, the solicitors at Wilford Smith can provide reliable expert advice on all aspects of tax and VAT inspections.
What is a tax investigation?
A tax investigation is carried out by HMRC to examine whether an individual or business has failed to pay their required level of tax. While a tax investigation may be carried out randomly, other factors may play an important role in HMRC deciding to carry out a specific investigation. While those involved in certain job categories may be targeted, such as those that routinely deal with cash payments, investigations may also be prompted by the late filing of tax returns, disparities between your tax returns and your standard of living, or following a tip-off received by HMRC.
If you are the subject of a tax investigation it is imperative that you seek the advice of solicitors who are experts in the area of financial investigations, who can guide you through this complex process and enable you to be thoroughly prepared for your dealings with HMRC investigators. For individuals and businesses subject to formal tax investigations, the team of solicitors at Wilford Smith specialising in tax and VAT fraud are able to provide representation when attending meetings with HMRC, representation in court proceedings and can provide guidance on managing risks to reputation resulting from investigations or prosecutions.
Why Wilford Smith?
Wilford Smith’s Financial Crime Team takes pride in its reputation for unique representation, giving clients an exceptionally strategic and results driven service, and is able to attract the highest calibre barristers to provide support when necessary. Tax fraud is an extremely complex area of law, but with years of experience in handling such cases on behalf of our clients, we are best placed to advise you and to conduct your defence in court where necessary. We know how distressing an investigation by HMRC can be and will ensure that you are given sympathetic, straightforward advice as part of our client-focused and highly personal service.
Contact our Tax and VAT Fraud Lawyers, Sheffield and London
Our specialist Fraud Solicitors are based in Sheffield and London and service clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 0808 169 5677 to find out how we can help.