Code of Practice 9 (COP9): Guidance from Tax Investigation Advisors

Do You Need Advice On Disclosing Your Taxes?

If you need to make a disclosure regarding your taxes or have been prompted to do so, then it’s likely to be under Code of Practice 9 (COP9). 

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Although COP9 can sound complicated, it needn’t be, and it has one valuable benefit. An investigation carried out under COP9 offers the taxpayer suspected of fraud immunity from criminal prosecution. In return, HMRC expects a full and honest disclosure regarding their tax affairs. Either HMRC or the taxpayer can initiate the investigation.

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What Is a Code of Practice 9 (COP9) Investigation?

A COP9 investigation is one of the most serious types of tax investigation. A COP9 case is only one step down from a full criminal investigation. Therefore, it’s important to appoint a COP9 professional to aid you in the COP9 process as soon as possible.

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How Do I Know If HMRC Is Investigating Me?

If HMRC suspects someone of serious tax fraud, they will issue the taxpayer with a Code of Practice 9 notice. The taxpayer will then have 60 days to either deny the allegations — and therefore the offer of protection from prosecution — or admit to carrying out tax fraud. They will then be required to complete an “outline disclosure”, outlining their activities in general terms.

If you wish to disclose tax fraud, while protected from criminal prosecution, you can apply to HMRC under the “CDF” (contacted disclosure facility). Again, you will have 60 days to either accept or decline the contract once issued. You should not undertake this action without the guidance of a tax professional.

If you may wish to make a COP9 disclosure or have received a COP9 letter from HMRC, please contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with our tax investigation advisors.

How Long Will a COP9 Investigation/Disclosure Take?

Due to the individual and complex nature of Code of Practice 9 cases, this is almost impossible to answer. Some cases can take several months, some several years.

However, instructing a professional can not only help reduce the time required to complete the process but can also reduce the amount of stress and work required on the taxpayer’s behalf. For example, we undertake all dealings with HMRC and compile the final report on our client’s behalf. This means our clients simply need to provide the required information and “adopt” the report once completed.

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What Will Happen If I Refuse the Offer of a Code of Practice 9 Disclosure?

Refusing HMRC’s offer to disclose under COP9 can have severe consequences. If you refuse the CDF (contractual disclosure facility) offer and HMRC subsequently uncover activity that is considered “serious tax fraud” they may pursue a criminal prosecution — potentially resulting in imprisonment.

You should never attempt to deliberately conceal information regarding unpaid tax liabilities

If you have any questions regarding your tax affairs, believe that you may wish to make a COP9 disclosure or have received a COP9 letter from HMRC, please contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with tax investigation advisors. You have nothing to lose by getting in touch.