Underpayment of tax and tax evasion are serious matters with the potential for steep financial penalties and even jail time in the most serious cases. These matters can be very complex and require very specialist handling from the outset to secure the best possible outcome.
If you find yourself under investigation by HMRC, charged with tax evasion or prosecuted for a tax fraud offence, it can be very frightening and hard to know what to do. It is essential to make the right moves at every stage of such proceedings as any mistakes can be very damaging and hard to recover from.
Wells Burcombe is recognised as one of the top criminal defence firms in the South East. As such, we regularly help clients facing underpayment of tax situations and tax evasion. With many years of expertise to call upon, we can handle even the most complex cases with skill and confidence.
In many cases, if you are able to contact us in the early ‘investigation stage’ we are able to help our clients to avoid serious penalties and sidestep criminal proceedings, protecting them, their businesses and their reputations. Where criminal proceedings cannot be avoided, we have an excellent track record of success in defending our clients and securing acquittal or the lowest possible penalties.
Our expertise includes all types of tax evasion cases, including:
- Income tax evasion
- VAT non-payment
- Capital Gains Tax evasion
- Corporation Tax evasion
- Failure to make National Insurance contributions
Based conveniently in West Drayton in London and St Albans in Hertfordshire, our clients come to us from across the UK for our independently recognised expertise and the results we achieve for our clients.
Our expertise with tax evasion defence
Advice on what to do if you have underpaid tax
If you believe you may have underpaid tax, there are various options you can take. How HMRC will treat underpayment of tax and the potential penalties will depend on the circumstances, so it is always sensible to seek specialist legal advice before taking action.
Our team can advise on situations including:
- Mistaken underpayment of tax – Where you have made a genuine mistake leading to underpayment of tax – in many cases, there will be no penalty or a limited penalty for declaring a genuine tax payment error.
- Failure to take reasonable care to pay tax – Where a careless mistake has been made leading to underpayment of tax – a typical penalty would be a fine of up to 30% of the tax due, however, this percentage will typically be lower if the mistake is self-reported promptly.
- Deliberate understatement of tax – Where you have knowingly given false information to HMRC in order to pay less tax. This is a serious offence of tax evasion and the penalty can be up to 70% of the tax due.
- Failure to declare taxable income – Where you have deliberately misled HMRC over your taxable income and taken steps to hide the fraud (e.g. destroying documents, creating false invoices or keeping money in a hidden bank account). The penalty for this type of serious tax fraud is up to 200% of the tax due.
- Failure to disclose a tax avoidance scheme – Where you have entered into a tax avoidance scheme and failed to declare this to HMRC. You have 5 day to declare such a scheme to HMRC and can be fined up to £600 a day for failing to do so.
- Failing to include an employee in an end of year report – An employer can be charged a penalty of £5000 per employee for failing to include them in their end of year report to HMRC, plus an additional £600 per day for each additional day the employee is not reported.
Responding to a HMRC tax evasion investigation
Should you find yourself or your business under investigation by HMRC, you must take this seriously and get specialist legal guidance on what you need to do. It is important to comply fully with the investigators as you are legally required to do, while also making sure you do not do anything with puts you or your business at unnecessary risk.
Our tax evasion solicitors can help you navigate this challenging time, giving you clear practical advice on the steps you need to take to comply with a HMRC investigation while also protecting yourself and your business.
Tax evasion prosecutions
In the event that you or your company are facing a tax evasion prosecution, our team can advise and represent you. We can support you through every stage of proceedings, all the way through to any trial that takes place and the appeals process (where appropriate).
With many years of experience in tax evasion prosecutions, we can give you the best chance of securing the most favourable outcome available for your case.
Failure to prevent facilitation of tax evasion
Under the Criminal Finances Act 2017, it is a criminal offence for a company to fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. A successful prosecution for such an offence can result in a heavy fine for your organisation, as well as the potential for severe reputational damage.
Our tax evasion defence solicitors can support your business on what to do if you are facing such a serious allegation. We can advise on the various defence options, including proving that you had adequate procedures in place to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion (where applicable).
Self-reporting tax evasion
In some cases, the best option will be to self-report underpayment of tax or tax evasion. This can result in lower penalties and potentially allow you to avoid criminal prosecution. However, before taking this step, it is critical to seek specialist legal advice to ensure this is handled in the right way for you and/or your business.
Our tax evasion solicitors can advise you on your legal position and options, including self-reporting, giving you the best chance of securing the lowest possible penalties.
Why choose our tax evasion defence solicitors?
We are independently recognised as one of the top criminal defence teams in the South East by leading client guide the Legal 500.
Our expertise is also recognised with professional accreditations and memberships including:
- The Law Society Criminal Litigation Accreditation
- The London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association
- The Association of Prison Lawyers
Our highly skilled team has decades of experience, including handling high value and high profile tax evasion investigations and prosecutions.
Members of our team include:
- Partner Alan Burcombe – who specialises in high profile matters involving all types of prosecuting and investigative authorities, including multi-million pound fraud and money laundering cases, especially those with international and cross-border issues.
- Partner Ravinder Khumra – who has extensive specialist expertise handling matters including tax fraud investigations and prosecutions.
- Qualified barrister Philip Kazantzis – who has considerable complex fraud expertise
- Solicitor Priya Wader has extensive experience with financial crime defence work, including high value tax fraud and VAT evasion cases
Our lawyers can provide representation at all court levels and at all stages of the criminal justice system, providing you with a consistent and effective service every step of the way.