HMRC have always taken a dim view of tax evasion, but now it is increasingly likely that any accusation of such as practice will result in an investigation and criminal proceedings. This could be due to inconsistencies being discovered in a tax return that has been filed by an individual or business, or a report being made by a third party that suggests some kind of wrongdoing.
These investigations must be taken extremely seriously, as they could lead to the arrest of the accused individual and business and personal assets being frozen. The penalties of such accusations, meanwhile, vary from fines to custodial prison sentences of varying lengths, depending on whether HMRC consider the tax evasion to be deliberate and wilful, and how cooperative the individual chooses to be during the investigation.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following actions will be considered grounds for investigation and prosecution of tax evasion.
- Wilful misrepresentation of Tax or VAT Returns (including declaration of income tax)
- Deliberate neglect to file Tax or VAT Returns in a timely manner
The use forged or incorrect documentation
Any form of deception or the concealing of data
Failing to disclose any information requested during an investigation
- Laundering of funds
Assisting any others in an attempt to evade tax (this also incudes any legal representatives or accountancy firms, which is why it is essential to always seek help and advice from a reputable body)
As prevention is always preferable to cure, can you or your business afford to take this risk? It is always advisable to have a professional tax accountant review your figures to ensure that you are legally compliant and help you sleep easier at night, safe in the knowledge that your financial and business transactions are wholly legally compliant.