There are many factors that could trigger an HMRC Tax Investigation. Some of these include:
- HMRC receiving information from third parties that doesn’t match up with what you’ve declared on your tax return
- Having a lifestyle that doesn’t match up with the income you’ve declared
- Your tax return being selected for random checks (known as ‘spot checks’)
- HMRC suspecting that you haven’t declared all of your income
- HMRC suspecting that you’ve made a mistake on your tax return calculations
- Hiding assets or income offshore
What is the Typical Investigation Procedure?
The first thing you’ll usually receive from HMRC is a letter informing you that they are going to investigate your tax affairs. This will be followed up with a meeting, where the HMRC officer will go through your tax affairs in detail and will ask you questions about anything they’re not clear on.
You’ll then be given a list of documents that HMRC requires from you. These could include bank statements, payslips, proof of income and expenditure, and anything else they deem relevant to their enquiries.
Once HMRC has all the information they need, they will make a decision on whether any further action needs to be taken. This could include issuing a tax demand, issuing a penalty, or launching a criminal investigation.
What are the Consequences of an Investigation?
The consequences of an HMRC Tax Investigation will depend on the outcome of the investigation.
If HMRC finds that you have made an honest mistake, you may be liable for interest and penalties on the unpaid tax.
If they believe that you have deliberately evaded tax, they may refer your case to the Fraud Investigation Service with a view to prosecuting you. Criminal investigations are rare but can result in a prison sentence if you’re convicted of tax fraud.
How to Prepare for an Investigation
If you’re selected for an HMRC Tax Investigation, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself:
- Gather all the relevant documentation together in one place.
- Make sure you understand what the investigation is about and what HMRC are looking for.
- Get professional help from experienced HMRC civil tax investigation solicitors.
- Keep calm and don’t panic – HMRC investigations are not always a sign of wrongdoing.