Criminal Tax Investigations

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Pannu Tax can provide expert advice and support if you are the subject of a criminal investigation by HMRC.

While most serious tax investigations are still settled on a civil basis (usually under the Code of Practice 9 procedure), the number of HMRC criminal tax investigations has increased significantly over the last 3-4 years on the back of additional funding and recruitment into HMRCs Criminal Investigation teams. The additional resources have been provided in exchange for significantly increasing the number of criminal prosecutions.

It goes without saying that a HMRC criminal investigation is a very serious matter and usually follows a significant period of review and investigation (sometimes covert) by HMRC Criminal Investigation investigators. These teams contain officers trained in the primary criminal procedures legislation, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act ("PACE"). While the investigation is undertaken by HMRC, the decision on whether to prosecute rests with the Crown Prosecution Service.

HMRC's Criminal Taxes Unit ("CTU") also has a civil team. This team often deals with investigations where HMRC have failed to secure a criminal prosecution however they believe tax has been evaded and they want to reach civil financial settlement with the taxpayer or where the CTU decide there is insufficient evidence to mount a criminal investigation. It is vitally important that if you receive a letter from HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit (Civil) that you seek specialist tax investigations advice to ensure that your case is not escalated.

HMRC's criminal prosecution policy

HMRC has a publicly available criminal prosecution policy which sets out the type of cases which will be considered for criminal investigation. These include cases where:

  • HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate;
  • The taxpayer holds a position of trust or responsibility (professional advisors such as solicitors, accountants, doctors etc.);
  • Materially false statements are made or materially false documents are provided during a civil investigation (this includes all types of civil investigation and not just those conducted under Code of Practice 9)
  • As part of an avoidance scheme, reliance is placed on a false or altered documents or such reliance or material facts are misrepresented to enhance the credibility of a scheme;
  • where deliberate concealment, deception, conspiracy or corruption is suspected or involving the use of false or forged documents.

It is important to note that HMRC has complete discretion to conduct a criminal investigation in any case. This can mean that while one taxpayer can be investigated on a civil basis it does not stop HMRC investigating another case, with the same of similar facts, on a criminal basis.

It is also important to note that when considering whether a case should be investigated using the civil fraud investigation procedures or is the subject of a criminal investigation, one factor will be whether the taxpayer has made a complete and unprompted disclosure of the offences committed.

What should I do if HMRC has commenced with a criminal investigation?

The first most clients know of a criminal tax investigation into their affairs is a raid and search of their personal and business premises. This is often followed by arrest and interview (under caution) at a Police station. If you have been subject to this type of action you should:

  1. Instruct a solicitor experienced in dealing with tax related offences and HMRC criminal investigations as soon as possible. We have worked with many of the best criminal defence specialists and can help you find one that you feel you can work with.
  2. Listen to the advice you receive. This may sound silly, but we have experience of clients who, in a genuine attempt to be 'helpful' to HMRCs investigation, fail to listen to the advice they receive. Being subject to a criminal investigation is an extremely difficult and stressful experience. However, early appreciation of the 'rules of engagement' and how these differ from, say, a civil HMRC investigation are critical.
  3. Instruct a tax investigations specialist who is experienced in these matters. An experienced specialist will be able to review HMRCs actions to ensure that they have followed their procedures, investigate the allegations being made by HMRC and advise on the potential tax issues and seek to persuade HMRC that a civil conclusion to their enquiries is more appropriate.

How Can Pannu Tax Help?

We have extensive experience of helping clients who are subject to HMRC criminal investigation, working as part of your defence team. We understand HMRCs procedures and investigation powers.

We have been successful in convincing HMRC that issues which were initially thought to be serious enough to warrant a criminal investigation, should in fact be concluded on a civil basis.

We can:

  • help you find a specialist tax solicitor; someone who you feel comfortable working with;
  • Work as part of your defence team, providing support and analysis on the tax issues and on HMRCs procedures;
  • Where appropriate, engage with HMRC to ensure that the correct facts are properly understood and that the right decisions are made;

At Pannu Tax you will be advised by some the UKs leading tax investigations and dispute specialists who have the practical experience and the technical knowledge required to provide you with the type of effective support you need.

By engaging with Pannu Tax you will have access to their extensive experience and in depth and up to date knowledge of HMRCs criminal procedures, powers and processes (usually only found in the global accountancy firms) but at an affordable price.

To get further information or for a free, confidential and no obligation discussion please contact us on 0800 246 5915, complete the contact form or email us direct at

Expertise & Experience

At Pannu Tax you will be advised by some the UK's leading tax investigations and dispute specialists who have the practical experience and the technical knowledge required to provide you with the type of effective support you need.

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How can we help?

For a free, confidential and no obligation discussion call us on 0800 246 5915 or email us direct at

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