Understanding Tax Offices
Local compliance offices are responsible for most taxpayers' income tax, corporation tax and PAYE/NI affairs. Each year HMRC conducts about 200,000 enquiries into the affairs of personal taxpayers and another 50,000 into companies.
The term local is a bit misleading as in recent years HMRC have centralized many of its administration processes and a taxpayer in London might find their “local” office is in Leeds. Nevertheless it will be these central contact centres which are the first point of reference for most people.
High Net Worth Units
Some years ago, HMRC established specific teams to deal with the country’s wealthiest individuals who might be expected to have more complex tax affairs. If you are allocated to these offices, you will have a dedicated inspector who will look into your tax returns. It is a more personalised service and if all of your tax affairs are in order, you have nothing to worry about. On the contrary, it can be helpful to have a contact point to deal with routine issues that arise from time to time.
Of course if you are trying to hide something, you are less likely to succeed if you are under this level of increased scrutiny.
The Special Investigations (SI) Office
The Special Investigation Office (SI), formerly Special Compliance Office (SCO/SCI), is the specialist investigation unit of the HM Revenue & Customs. It handles complex tax cases of individuals and companies including larger cases of suspected serious tax fraud.
SI deals with the most serious cases of tax avoidance and evasion. Whilst these can be criminal offences, in most cases, the case will not be passed for prosecution but SI will be responsible for negotiating financial settlements, using a civil contract.
The traditional way for HMRC to deal with serious tax investigations is by undertaking a Code of Practice 9 Procedure, which is now known as the CDF (Contractual Disclosure Facility).
The facility requires taxpayers to sign a contract admitting that HMRC had been defrauded in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However there are consequences to the penalty rates for admitting to the fraud, and so great care needs to be taken at all stages.
Cameron Baum is ideally placed to act for you in respect of investigations carried out by the CDF Teams. Uniquely, we have many years of experience dealing with inspectors from local districts and SI, precisely the mix of team that make up the CIF teams.