A COP 9 investigation usually begins with an invitation from an Investigator who works in a Specialist Investigation office for you to attend a formal meeting at which the COP 9 principal will be explained to you. That principal in everyday language is that if you disclose any irregularities in your tax affairs and/or the affairs of any business that you have been associated with during the preceding 20 years and pay the outstanding duties, interest and penalties then you will not be prosecuted.
Anyone who receives such an invitation should seek specialist advice from CM chartered accountants’ experienced ex HMRC high level investigators urgently. It is worth bearing in mind that the Investigator cannot compel you to attend a meeting with him and if your accountant tells you otherwise seek our advice at once. Accountants tend to know that part of the Specialist Investigations team brief is to consider the actions of the accountant themselves when carrying out the investigation and this can deflect them from full concentration on your affairs.
The opening COP 9 interview is a structured formal affair and some very simple but very demanding questions are put to the person being investigated. The way in which the investigation proceeds is determined by the answers to those questions. The questions posed relate to both direct and indirect taxes and generally take the following form;
Have any transactions been omitted from or incorrectly recorded in the books of any business with which you are or have been concerned whether as a director, partner or sole proprietor to the best of your knowledge or belief?
Are the accounts sent to the HMRC for each and every business with which you are or have been concerned whether as a director, partner or sole proprietor, correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Are all the tax returns of each and every business with which you are or have been concerned whether as a director, partner or sole proprietor correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Are all of your personal tax returns correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Will you allow an examination of all business books, business and private bank statements and any other business and private records in order that HMRC may be satisfied that your answers to the first four questions are correct?
False statements can result in a criminal investigation with a view to prosecution.
These are clearly serious questions and a simple yes or no answer is all that is expected. The warning about the possibility of criminal investigation has to be taken very seriously and nobody should ever put themselves into the position of having to answer these questions without experienced support from a firm such as CM chartered accountants. If you have an opening COP 9 meeting scheduled you should contact CM chartered accountants at once. If you have undergone such an experience and the investigation process has not been completed you should contact us if you wish to ensure that you are not prosecuted and to achieve the least possible tax bill at the conclusion of your enquiry.
If you want to read the full text of the HMRC leaflet which sets out the COP 9 procedures click the following link.