Code of Practice 8

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Code of Practice 8 “COP 8” Tax Investigations

Are you under a COP 8 tax investigation from HMRC?

This is a serious tax investigation requiring specialist assistance, without whom it could possibly turn into a criminal tax investigation. Morris Wheeler Churchill specialise in Code of Practice 8 (“COP 8”) tax investigations and will advise you on the best possible strategy and options.

What is a Code of Practice 8 tax investigation?

The Fraud Investigation Service (“FIS”) of HMRC can instigate investigations using the COP 8 procedure in cases where Code of Practice 9 (“COP 9”) is not used. Whereas COP 9 is used when HMRC suspect serious tax fraud has taken place, COP 8 is usually used by HMRC in complex tax investigations or if a taxpayer has entered into a tax scheme to reduce tax liability which HMRC doesn’t accept works. HMRC will then conduct an in-depth investigation. In line with the COP 8 procedure, HMRC will seek to recover the tax that they deem is owed plus any interest and penalties. However, HMRC’s Officers will still be looking out for any evidence of tax fraud. If there is a suspicion of tax fraud the COP 8 could be switched to a COP 9 tax investigation. In the most serious cases of tax fraud a criminal prosecution could be started. Unlike COP 9 there is no immunity from prosecution with COP 8.

Appoint a Code of Practice 8 specialist

HMRC suggest that anyone who is subject to a Code of Practice 8 or COP 8 tax investigation should consider instructing a professional adviser. That is where we can help. We have extensive professional experience of tax investigations and provide all the advice needed by a business or individual. Our many years’ of knowledge, including having worked within HMRC itself, gives support to you during the COP8 tax investigation. We will attend any necessary meeting with HMRC and prepare information required to resolve the enquiries. Morris Wheeler Churchill work with you, or your advisers, during the investigation to bring it to a swift conclusion. If there is nothing wrong with your tax affairs, the investigation will be closed and you will face no penalties or extra duties. If HMRC are able to prove that something was wrong, their Officers will recover the tax payable plus interest and with the possibility of penalties.

HMRC only opens a COP 8 tax investigation when they suspect that a significant amount of tax has not been paid due to significant errors in the tax returns or due to a tax avoidance scheme. As mentioned earlier, such investigations generally do not involve any allegation of a serious fraud. However, a COP 8 tax investigation is still a very serious matter and can lead to COP 9 investigation if fraud is suspected during the enquiry.

The focus of a COP 8 tax investigation will be on gathering a significant amount of information. HMRC has significant legal powers to obtain this information from taxpayers or relevant third parties. Expert representation is necessary to ensure that HMRC do not overstep the law.

Our expertise of COP 8 investigations

Regardless of how complex the tax investigation may be we take a positive and proactive approach. We aim to reduce the information HMRC may request and ensure the enquiry is not used simply to obtain data their Officers are not entitled to. As specialists, our tax law knowledge and experience can ensure this does not happen. Our team includes highly qualified, Chartered Institute of Tax specialists and ex-HMRC officers with decades of experience in dealing with Code of Practice 8 enquiries.

It is not compulsory to produce a report for submission to HMRC in COP 8 tax investigations, it may be beneficial to do so. Collating information and documents into a report can help with this process. A comprehensive report may assist with context supported by relevant technical arguments to reduce lengthy correspondence with HMRC.

With our extensive COP 8 tax investigation experience, we will work with you to bring the enquiry to a quick resolution with minimum disruption to your business or personal affairs.

The help we can give:

Take full control of the COP8 tax investigation

Meet, correspond and set the strategy with HMRC in relation to the COP 8 enquiry

Liaise with the client’s accountants and advisers as necessary concerning the COP 8 investigation

Consider and provide advice for the best options available during the COP 8 enquiry

Negotiate on the client’s behalf to reach a settlement with the HMRC officers

Mitigate any alleged tax penalties

Conclude matters to the client’s advantage as quickly as possible

We know that this can be a stressful time and we can help make the process of responding to HMRC and the COP 8 a little easier. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you with your Code of Practice 8 tax investigation.  Call us on 01279 464400 for a consultation with a tax investigation specialist.

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