As noted in the COP9 acceptance article, the recipient of a COP9 letter must jump through a number of hoops to satisfactorily fall within the acceptance route and achieve immunity from prosecution.
Anything else will amount to ‘non-cooperation’, whether or not in substance there is non-cooperation.
In summary, non-cooperation will occur where:
- The individual advises HMRC that he is unwilling to cooperate;
- HMRC does not hear anything within the 60-day time limit; or,
- Where a CDF contract has not been agreed because the correct procedure has not been followed
In a previous version of the Code of Practice 9, HMRC also offered a middle ground, which provided the opportunity for those under investigation to deny fraud but offer full cooperation. This was particularly useful for those who worked within particular professions whereby an admission of fraud would have adverse consequences. However, formally, HMRC do not offer this as an option any longer.
Where someone believes that they have not committed tax fraud and may understand the circumstances that have likely led HMRC to believe that fraud has been committed, it may be advisable to submit sufficient information to HMRC in support of the rejection of fraud.
Following an investigation, where HMRC is satisfied that fraud has not occurred, HMRC will confirm this.
Where there is non-cooperation, the criminal investigations team will assess the circumstances, with a view to prosecution, or may undertake a further investigation, using a broad range of information powers available to obtain relevant information.
Where someone is convicted of fraud, they may be subject to up to 10-years imprisonment and may have money or assets confiscated per the Proceeds of Crime Act.
If you have any queries regarding COP9, or any other investigation matters, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.