If you should receive a letter from HMRC’s Specialist Investigations division, you should take this very seriously indeed and seek professional advice immediately. The SI branch of HMRC merged with the Criminal Investigations arm some years ago, and its involvement is reserved for cases in which HMRC have reason to suspect serious wrongdoing with a high likelihood of prosecution. However, criminal proceedings can be avoided if you take immediate action and seek assistance from a professional body.
The most senior executives within HMRC staff the SI unit, meaning you can expect your accounts and figures to be studied in extremely fine detail. Financial records of up to twenty years could potentially be requested, so prepare yourself for such a request. It cannot be stressed enough that any request from the SI division of HMRC should be cooperated with quickly and efficiently – and, unless you have experience in dealing with this particular branch of government, you should always seek outside assistance from a professional.
Understanding and margin for error is non-existent while under investigation from an HMRC Special Investigation. Regardless of why any incorrect or inaccurate information is provided – whether a deliberate attempt at deception or a mistake made by an individual working under pressure – it is highly likely that criminal proceedings will be launched as a result. This is why it is strongly advisable to seek help in the event of such communication.
Even though you will need to pay for the services of an experienced tax professional, the long-term costs will be significantly smaller than those associated with criminal prosecution. Bringing in the assistance of a professional representative will also shield you from many of the day-to-day stresses involved with the investigation, which will be particularly essential if you hope to continue to run a business and engage in normal activities throughout the investigation.