The UK Government has placed unlawful tax avoidance, evasion and fraud at the heart of its enforcement priorities for the next few years. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recently stated that the tax affairs of around half of large businesses are under active consideration at any one time.
HMRC has a two track approach to dealing with cases of suspected fraud: a civil enquiry where an individual is 'invited' to disclose the conduct leading to the irregularities in their tax affairs or a criminal investigation where HMRC is seeking to send a strong deterrent message or only a criminal sanction is considered appropriate.
A new threat to businesses has also arisen from the corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion under the Criminal Finances Act 2017, which imposes liability on organisations who fail to prevent persons associated with them from committing the facilitation of tax evasion.
However, a defence is available if the company had Reasonable Prevention Procedures in place to prevent its associated persons from facilitating tax evasion, which makes it vitally important for businesses to undertake an assessment of the risks they may face under the new “failure to prevent” laws and the extent to which their current procedures address those risks.
At DWF, we bring together a multi-disciplined blend of knowledge and expertise across the regulatory spectrum that puts us in a leading position in the market and enables us to deliver an end-to-end service to meet all of our clients' needs.