Tax fraud can have grave implications for you or your business, with imprisonment a possibility in the most serious cases. If you’re accused of tax fraud, the time to act is now. Consult our experts today.
What is classed as tax fraud?
According to HMRC, tax fraud is ‘any deliberate omission, concealment or misinterpretation of information, or the false or deceptive presentation of information or circumstances in order to gain a tax advantage’. In other words, it is providing incorrect tax information to benefit financially.
It could include submitting false tax returns; smuggling taxable goods into the country; claiming tax relief or repayments you’re not entitled to; or hiding taxable income or assets offshore. Another form of tax fraud involves charging VAT but then failing to pass the funds on to HMRC.
Tax fraud can be committed by dishonest individuals, but organised crime is also involved in tax fraud. It is sometimes referred to as tax evasion, but is distinct from tax avoidance, which is trying to avoid paying tax through legal – although sometimes morally ambiguous – means.
For the 2019/20 tax year, HMRC lost around £15.2 billion in revenue to tax fraud. While the total amount lost through non-payment, avoidance and fraud combined was about £35 billion, for the same period. Much of that was due to multinational companies moving funds to offshore tax havens.
When it comes to individuals failing to pay sufficient tax, some of the shortfall is due to people not paying tax on secondary earnings, such as ‘side hustles’ or small business operations. Some people knowingly commit tax fraud by not declaring these earnings, while others may not be aware that if you make over £1,000 in revenue, you’re liable to pay tax on it.
What should you do if you are under a tax investigation?
If you’re notified that you’re being investigated by HMRC for tax fraud, the first thing to do is seek legal representation. Whether you’ll be meeting tax investigators in person or speaking over the phone, it’s vital to have experienced solicitors on hand, to give you considered advice and guide you through the process. Any information you submit to HMRC as part of the investigation should first be examined by your solicitor.
Do not be tempted to lie to tax investigators or hide any evidence: this could result in much greater penalties.
Specialist tax fraud solicitors to support you
Tax matters are often complex and are not understood by the majority of people, which is why businesses use accountancy services. If you’re subject to a tax investigation, you need specialists of a different nature: experts in tax law.
It’s vital to have advice from professionals who understand the tax investigations process and who can demonstrate your cooperation with HMRC, where necessary.
We can also make arrangements with indemnity insurers – should you need them – or organise plans for making repayments to HMRC.
If you stand accused of tax fraud, contact our expert solicitors immediately to secure the best outcome possible.
FAQs about Tax Fraud
Can a lawyer help you with tax fraud?
What is the punishment for tax fraud?
How serious is tax fraud in the UK?
- The amount of tax unpaid: anything over £50,000 is more likely to result in prosecution
- If the accused voluntary raised the issue of unpaid tax
- Did the accused attempt to hide the offence by, for example, transferring money to an overseas account?