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"More Serious" Civil Investigation of Fraud (CIF), including COP9

Even though these cases are more "serious" the principles written about on the HMRC Local Compliance (LC) page apply equally here. Conclusions must still have regard to the balanced picture and tribunal is available. These more serious investigations are generally invoked only where HMRC has evidence of wrongdoing so there is generally some case to be answered.

That a taxpayer has to account for past issues is appropriate but any settlement must be demonstrably fair, reasonable and appropriate.

COP9 is the primary mechanism in these cases. HMRC seeks to require the taxpayer to attest in a Report to having made a full make disclosure that represents that sum total of "wrongdoing" for the previous 20 (twenty) years. Immunity from prosecution for past events is guaranteed once the contract is exchanged. Very importantly whether a report is actually completed, or whether some other means of a settlement comes about does not detract from the fact that COP9 has been agreed and immunity from prosecution given.

Whilst entry in the contract gives immunity for past events, it does not give immunity from, for example, material omissions from the Report. I have very grave reservations about the propriety of COP9 in particular Article 6 of the Human Rights Act in so far as it relates to self incrimination. Whilst there is not any doubt that the COP9 offer should be accepted, I consider very carefully the onward progress of the case.
In particular if a Report is to be submitted then its terms should make absolutely clear that it is completed to the taxpayer's best ability and knowledge.

 

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