If you have been implicated in tax fraud, it’s important to seek expert legal advice as soon as you become aware of the allegations against you or your company. The Criminal Finances Act 2017 states that businesses are liable for any tax-related offences committed by employees or people performing services for their organisation, meaning the onus is now very much on businesses to carry out the necessary due diligence to protect themselves from potentially damaging and costly proceedings against them. Of course, even with the very best intentions, this can prove to be difficult to implement.
The specialist support you need
Purcell Parker’s specialist fraud lawyers based in our Birmingham city centre offices have a proven track record in defending tax fraud cases on both large and small scales for individuals and organisations. Tax can be an extremely complicated area of the law and if HMRC are pursuing a case against you, it’s crucial to have an expert on your side who will explain the process to you, every step of the way.
Financing a tax fraud case
In the vast majority of cases, legal aid is not an option for tax fraud cases. However, Purcell Parker’s tax lawyers may be able to provide you with a competitive fixed-fee quote for your case. Our first meeting with you is on a free, no-obligation basis which can take place in Birmingham city centre or at a location convenient to you in areas including Coventry, Leamington Spa, Stafford, Warwick, Wolverhampton and Worcester.
Types of tax fraud cases we can help with include:
Cash in hand payments
If you are reported for not paying tax on cash in hand payments you have received or HMRC have identified your transactions as suspicious, you will be subject to an investigation. While there is nothing wrong with a self-employed person accepting cash-in-hand payments, they must declare these payments in order to pay the appropriate PAYE tax and National Insurance (NICs) contributions. If you are caught accepting cash payments while in employment, you may lose some employment rights and benefits as well as being liable to a fine and an obligation to pay back the tax.
Due to the billions of pounds of revenue lost each year to the hidden cash-in-hand economy, HMRC actively seeks out those who they suspect of committing this offence and the consequences can be severe, including prison sentences for the worst long-term offenders. If you are facing allegations of this kind, Purcell Parker’s fraud lawyers can advise on the best course of action to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Illegally diverting goods (often alcohol and cigarettes) into the UK when they are destined for elsewhere in order to avoid excise, is a serious offence, with grave consequences in terms of large fines and long prison sentences, not least because of the loss of revenue to HMRC that it causes each year. Because this kind of organised fraud is often complex and highly sophisticated, it’s not uncommon for individuals and businesses to be drawn in without their knowledge. Here at Purcell Parker, our fraud defence solicitors can provide expert, empathetic advice for your legal defence.
HMRC’s offshore, corporate and wealthy unit has increased its efforts to crack down on wealthy individuals who hide their assets offshore in response to the ‘Panama Papers’ tax scandal of 2016 in which high profile people were exposed for hiding wealth via a network of secret offshore companies.
Also, a new ‘strict liability offence’ means that if an individual is caught failing to declare an offshore income of over £25,000, HMRC is no longer required to prove an intent to evade tax, meaning a barrier to securing a conviction has been removed and the burden of proof is now on the taxpayer. Although HMRC no longer needs to prove the taxpayer’s dishonesty, it can be possible to mount a ‘reasonable excuse’ defence against the allegations. In order to do this, it’s crucial to secure the ongoing guidance of an experienced fraud solicitor who can advise you on potential lines of defence.
If you wish to challenge a decision made by HMRC, Border Force or the National Crime Agency (NCA), you can take it to the tax tribunal. However, before making an important decision like this, it’s necessary to ensure you get expert representation from an experienced tax fraud lawyer. The fraud solicitors at Purcell Parker can represent you in this process, including advising you when your case is unsuccessful as to whether you can take it to the Upper Tier for appeal, which has the equivalent status of the High Court. Any appeals to the Upper Tier must be carefully considered by a specialist fraud lawyer, as if you lose your case, you may be held liable for HMRC’s costs.
All UK business owners whose turnover exceeds a certain threshold are legally obliged to register for VAT. Failing to do so can result in a late registration penalty. Pleading ignorance of the rules surrounding when you are required to register for VAT is not seen as an acceptable excuse by HMRC. As a result, if you find yourself in this situation and believe you have genuine reasons for failing to register on time, it’s important to speak to a specialist tax lawyer for advice in order to give you the best possible chance of success.
VAT fraud can be defined as follows:
- Failing to charge VAT (for example by asking for cash payments)
- Charging VAT and then failing to pay it to HMRC.
- Using the ability to reclaim VAT on business-related expenses to make fraudulent claims.
- False accounting – faking company accounts in order to pay less VAT.
This type of tax evasion is taken very seriously by HMRC and in the most serious cases can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years. Not only that, VAT fraud can cause a great deal of upheaval and reputational damage to your business. This is a complex area of the law where confusion can easily arise, so if you are informed that you are being investigated for VAT-related tax evasion, Purcell Parker can help you with clear and expert advice on how to proceed.