New Code of Practice
The new Code of Practice 9 (2005) has been written to reflect the new civil procedure. It starts with a statement of the practice of HMRC in cases of suspected serious tax fraud:-
- The Commissioners reserve complete discretion to pursue a criminal investigation with a view to prosecution where they consider it necessary and appropriate.
- Where a criminal investigation is not considered necessary or appropriate the Commissioners may decide to investigate using the Civil Investigation of Fraud procedure.
- Where the Commissioners decide to investigate using the Civil Investigation of Fraud procedure they will not seek a prosecution for the tax fraud which is the subject of that investigation. The taxpayer will be given an opportunity to make a full and complete disclosure of all irregularities in their tax affairs.
- However, where materially false statements are made, or materially false documents are provided with intent to deceive, in the course of a civil investigation, the Commissioners may conduct a criminal investigation with a view to a prosecution of that conduct.
- If the Commissioners decide to investigate using the Civil Investigation of Fraud procedure the taxpayer will be given a copy of this statement by an authorised officer.
In the same way as the previous Code of Practice, it then goes on to outline the various steps of enquiry.
The earlier version of the Code of Practice had to deal inevitably with the need for a caution to be given under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and for interviews to be recorded while at the same time stressing that this did not mean that the Inland Revenue wished to mount a prosecution. The new version states categorically that ‘the investigation is not being conducted with a view to your prosecution for tax fraud’. Having placed it squarely in the category of civil procedures, there is then no need for a caution or for interviews to be recorded.
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