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HMRC criminal prosecutions reached record levels during the past 12 months according to figures released by the department. During the year ended 31st December HMRC criminal prosecutions totalled 700 up from 477 in the preceeding calendar year. Of the 700 HMRC criminal prosecutions launched, 690 ended with a conviction before the courts.

BACKGROUND

During the governments annual spending review in 2010, HMRC were targeted with achieving 1000 criminal prosecutions by 2015. These figures clearly show an intensification in HMRC criminal prosecutions policy and the department has made clear its determination to reach and even exceed its published targets.

These figures come against a background of HMRC staff cuts. However, it seems clear that these reductions have had little effect at the sharp end. The department has hired more investigators to head up its criminal investigation drive and improved use of sophisticated software have without question made the identification of those who are deliberately evading taxes.

HMRC CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS POLICY

Readers of the Admiral blog will recall that we recently published our guide to HMRC criminal procecutions, where we take a detailed look at overall policy, alongside those triggers or aggravating factors which may lead to criminal proceedings being launched. If you would like to read read more on HMRC criminal prosecutions please click on the link below.

HMRC Criminal Prosecutions Policy

We all fear coming under HMRC scrutiny. A civil tax investigation in itself can be a terribly worrying affair. However, the strain of an HMRC criminal investigation is really impossible to measure in terms of impact and potential consequence. The range of powers available to HMRC criminal prosecutions teams are incredibly far reaching. There will be no friendly request to attend a meeting with the inspector as is the case with an HMRC compliance check. No invitation to make a full voluntary disclosure as is the case during a Code of Practice 9 tax investigation.

If HMRC decide to launch a criminal investigation, you will likely find yourself subject to an early morning visit to your home and/or business premises. You will be served with a search warrant and the Police will be in attendance. You property and any connnected premises will be searched and all those under suspicion will be interviewed under formal caution at a Police station. It truly is the most devastating of experiences and the impact will not just be felt by you. It will be felt by family too.

If you lay awake at night fearing a call from HMRC then please act now. We are happy to offer free tax investigation advice during all inital consultations. If you have any questions regarding HMRC criminal prosecutions please call 0330 999 5000 or drop us an email.