Can Tax Avoidance be a Crime?

There has been a long time debate about the difference between tax evasion (which is a crime) and Tax Avoidance (which generally is not).

The taxman gave his view very neatly back in 1997 when the Chief Inspector at the time (John Gribbon) said:
“If an ‘avoidance’ scheme relies on misrepresentation, deception and concealment of the full facts, then avoidance is a misnomer; the scheme would be more accurately described as fraud, and would fall to be dealt with as such.  Where fraud is involved, it cannot be re-characterised as avoidance by cloaking the behaviour with artificial structures, contrived transactions and esoteric arguments as to how the tax law should be applied to these structures and transactions.  Fraud is fraud, common cheat is common cheat and the application of tax law to ‘pretend’ situations is something of an irrelevance.”

Although HMRC could theoretically prosecute all tax fraud (including say a taxi driver putting a fiver in his back pocket) in fact they prefer to “take the money” and settle cases by way of a so-called civil settlement, rather than launching a criminal prosecution.  The larger of these cases are dealt with under the Contractual Disclosure Facility (Code of Practice 9) procedures and guarantee non-prosecution, in return for full disclosure.

Lynam Tax Investigation Experts have a vast amount of practical experience in managing serious tax fraud investigations.  If you are worried about a tax investigation we can advise you on the best course of action.  If appropriate, we can help you manage any necessary disclosures.  If you are facing criminal charges we can help you obtain first class legal representation, in order to obtain the optimum outcome for you, your business and your family.

For a free, private, no obligation consultation, call Paul Lynam today on 0845 643 9997

or Andrew Nutbrown on:  07718 778710