If HMRC suspects deliberate wrongdoing on your behalf in the context of your tax affairs, it will launch an HMRC fraud investigation. HMRC fraud investigations are not to be taken lightly. They are extremely serious and can lead to criminal prosecutions, substantial fines, and, in the most severe cases, imprisonment. Accordingly, it’s essential to ensure they are addressed promptly and handled effectively.

Many law firms offer HMRC-related legal advice, but few are true experts in the field. At Altion Law, we have a dedicated team of specialist solicitors and barristers who are committed to assisting clients facing HMRC fraud investigations. We are recognised experts in all HMRC related matters and have a proven track record of negotiating favourable settlements on behalf of our clients involved in HMRC fraud investigations. Where a matter is serious enough to proceed to Court proceedings, whether civil or criminal, we have vast experience representing clients in both the Tax Tribunals and at Court. We will guide you through every stage of the process, from initial notification to conclusion, providing cost-effective, commercially focused advice every step of the way. With our team by your side, you can be confident of receiving the very best legal representation throughout the duration of your HMRC fraud investigation.


For a confidential free discussion, call us today on 01908 414990,  alternatively email us at Hello@altion-law.co.uk or complete our Free Enquiry Form and we will call you back.


What is HMRC Fraud?

HMRC considers fraud to be any of the following acts in an attempt to evade tax liabilities:

  • Deliberately concealing information.
  • Deliberately omitting relevant information.
  • Deliberately misinterpreting information.
  • Falsely or deceptively presenting information or circumstances.

If HMRC suspects a taxpayer of engaging in any of the above activities, it may launch an HMRC fraud investigation. If it does, HMRC officers will forensically analyse your tax affairs and commercial operations, seeking to uncover any irregularities.


What can constitute HMRC Fraud?

HMRC fraud can take many forms. Some of the most common include the following:

  • A taxpayer submitting tax returns they know to be false.
  • A taxpayer making false claims for tax repayments or reliefs.
  • A taxpayer seeking to hide their income, wealth, or gains in offshore accounts.
  • A taxpayer smuggling goods that are taxable to avoid customs duties.


What is an HMRC Fraud Investigation?

HMRC fraud investigations are the domain of the Fraud Investigation Service or the ‘FIS’. The service comprises a team of over 5,000 highly trained officers based in different locations around the country. FIS officers specialise in tackling serious tax fraud, tax evasion, and extreme tax avoidance. The FIS has a variety of civil and criminal powers, which it uses to unravel complicated tax frauds, pursue perpetrators and recover lost tax.

Generally speaking, HMRC prefers to address tax fraud with its civil rather than criminal powers. Those civil powers enable HMRC to access the information required to evaluate and recoup unpaid tax and impose financial penalties on the taxpayer in question, which can be up to 200% of the tax owed.

If the tax fraud is particularly severe, HMRC may utilise its powers under ‘Code of Practice 9’. COP9 investigations, as they are known, involve HMRC agreeing to refrain from pursuing a criminal case in exchange for the taxpayer admitting their dishonesty and paying the tax owed together with financial penalties, which can be significant.

Whilst thousands of HMRC fraud investigations are launched each year, very few culminate in a criminal trial. In light of the expense and time involved in criminal prosecutions, and given that they are funded by taxpayer money, HMRC reserves its criminal powers for specific circumstances, which include the following:

  • Cases involving the most serious fraud.
  • When HMRC is keen to send a firm deterrent message to others and reassure them that honesty is always the best policy.
  • When HMRC’s civil powers are insufficient to uncover the true facts of the matter or recover the tax owed.


However, it’s important to understand that, despite the relatively low number of criminal prosecutions HMRC brings, it expressly reserves its right to do so where necessary. Furthermore, of those criminal cases it does pursue, HMRS’s success rate is exceptionally high; statistics report a Court success rate of 90.80% in the years 2022 to 2023. Accordingly, if you are involved in an HMRC fraud investigation, expert legal advice is essential. Experienced fraud investigation solicitors will have an intricate understanding of HMRC’s policies, procedures, and expectations, and be best placed to secure the most lenient penalty possible. Our dedicated HMRC team specialise in this complex area of law. With their outstanding expertise and decades of experience, they are on hand to give prompt legal guidance to anyone facing an HMRC fraud investigation.


For a confidential free discussion, call us today on 01908 414990,  alternatively email us at Hello@altion-law.co.uk or complete our Free Enquiry Form and we will call you back.