Any prosecution for VAT offences by the HMRC is executed with a mind to gain a conviction and claw back their missing funds. It’s for this reason that it’s essential to hire VAT defence solicitors who not only are familiar with this area of law, but who are proactive and experienced in negotiation.
VAT offences are not taken lightly by the police or the HMRC Tax Office.
If you have discovered that you are being investigated in terms of VAT offences, it’s critical that you engage a solicitor who can handle your case for you. Being under investigation is concerning and can bring about a huge amount of stress.
Sadly, many business owners will turn to their accountants to help in this situation. However, accountants are not specialists in law or in HMRC investigations. They will typically handle the investigation badly for the business under scrutiny. An investigation that is not handled property can result in being financially and operationally crippling to any business. Putting a legal team in place to craft a strong defence from the outset is critical to achieving a positive outcome.
HMRC investigations are normally stressful, lengthy and complicated. Any information that is uncovered will typically be handed over to other investigating authorities. This can lead to further prosecutions.
To ensure that you get the most favourable outcome from a case of this nature, it’s critical that you engage an experienced VAT offences legal team. They will provide you with support and a robust defence strategy.
There will be vast amounts of evidence to go through. In the meantime, you may find that your assets are frozen or you undergo an unexpected cash seizure or confiscation.
We have put together some of the most frequently asked questions with their answers. Our aim is to provide you with the support and guidance that you need currently so that your business and family do not suffer under unfortunate circumstances.
What type of actions are considered VAT offences?
There are a wide variety of VAT offences, here is a handful to demonstrate the type of acts.
Getting customers to pay by cash – it’s easy to cover a paper trail if payments are made by cash. It’s possible to avoid paying VAT.
The business is not paid – for example, customers can be asked to pay a person or another company as a way of avoiding having to pay VAT.
Not registering for VAT – you are expected to register for VAT if you make over £85,000 a year as a sole trader, or you own a business.
Stating that a VAT number has been applied for – for instance, a person may claim that they have not been issued with their VAT number as yet, but this is breaking the law.
Not using a VAT number that is valid – the VAT number that you were issued needs to be used. It’s against the law to use a fake number or one that belongs to somebody else.
As a form of tax evasion, not paying VAT is an offence that the HMRC takes very seriously.
What happens in a VAT offences investigation?
You’ll first discover that you’re under investigation for VAT offences when you receive either a letter from the HMRC or a tax audit notice. You’ll be told that there will be either a full tax investigation of your business or a focus on one aspect.
If you receive a letter from the HMRC about a tax investigation, it’s vital that you make contact with VAT offence lawyers. The lawyers will be able to provide you with guidance on how to respond to what HMRC ask you about your business and tax affairs.
Anybody who is part of a VAT offences investigation is going to find the occurrence stressful. There will be fears about being imprisoned, and what effect this may have on your business and your loved ones. Will your business survive your absence and can your dependents support themselves financially without you?
Every case of VAT offences is unique, and only your tax solicitor will be able to guide you on what needs to be handled.
Have you been charged or arrested for VAT offences?
Once you have been charged or arrested for any VAT offences, you will be asked to attend a police interview. In some cases, the interview will be held by HMRC. It is your right to bring a legal professional with you to the session so that you can be advised on legal matters.
VAT offences are a serious breach of law. It’s an area that hard to defend as it’s incredibly complicated. Only legal professionals who specialise in this area of law can provide a strong defence.
Going through a VAT offence investigation can be very disruptive to a business. Once word gets out to others, it’s also a situation that can bring about damage to the reputation of a business.
The most valuable lawyer to you in a situation such as this is one who has experience of defending other VAT offence cases. Ideally they will know about tax law, white collar crime and will be able to craft a strong defence strategy for you.
The legal professional you engage should be a solicitor who is capable of liaising with the:
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Any lawyer that you engage for legal services needs to be capable of building a case and a good understanding of business VAT offences cases.
Have you been wrongly accused of VAT offences?
Being accused wrongly of taking part in VAT offences is not unusual. There are times when there is a confusion or even a misunderstanding of what’s happened. This is a time when it’s incredibly important for you to hire a VAT offences lawyer. You need to get a defence strategy underway as quickly as possible.
The interview session will including very probing questions and you will be expected to provide information about your business and personal financial situation. Without knowing enough information, you may not say all the right things and may even say something that is used to incriminate you.
If you’re arrested or charged with VAT offences, you must take the advice of a specialist VAT lawyer. You need to find somebody who has experience in white collar crimes and business fraud. If you choose not to take legal representation, you may be creating a situation where you are imprisoned or given a large fine, even if you’re not guilty.
Will the police search my home?
The goal of the police is to gain a conviction, and if they want to find more evidence to support their case, the government will want to search your home to find more evidence.
Could you go to prison for VAT offences?
Any case of VAT offences that reaches court may lead to a conviction. It depends on whether the police produce enough evidence to convince the jury that you’re guilty of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.
Taking advice from a skilled and experienced VAT offences lawyer may prevent you from having to go to prison. In addition, to taking professional advice, it will also depend on what happened, how much money was involved and what your role was.
What type of sentence could you get for VAT offences?
If you are found to be guilty, then you may be given a sentence and receive a fine of up to £20,000.
Read more about sentencing for VAT Offences
What mitigating factors may be considered in sentencing?
When the judge considers what penalty to give you, he or she will look at what the unique circumstances are in your case. For example, what is your personal situation, have you already been convicted of a crime and how much money was involved. If you are found to have acted fraudulently in other ways to support your crime, that will also be part of the consideration.
Does a conviction for VAT offences go on your criminal record?
If you are found guilty of defrauding the country of tax, you will be given a criminal record.
What can Stuart Miller Solicitors do to help?
Known for decades of experience in representing business owners for VAT offences, our legal team is made up of some of the best people in the business. Not only do they have experience in a broad range of offences, but they also understand business and tax laws.
Of course, taking your business through a trial of this nature will leave it damaged, both financially and in terms of it’s reputation. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to go through to a court appearance on VAT offences, and by choosing the right lawyer, you may even be able to avoid it.
Tax investigations are notoriously complicated and challenging. There is often huge amounts of evidence involved that needs to be combed through for answers. There may also be Restraint Orders which can freeze all your assets at very short notice. This means that you may not be able to access funds to pay your rent, mortgage or to buy food. In most cases, the judge will organise this to allow you access to enough money for these, but in other cases, you may need somebody to step in to get the amount varied.
What happens after instructing a VAT offences lawyer?
Holding a huge amount of knowledge about VAT offences, our lawyer team work together to create a defence strategy for you that will get the most favourable outcome possible. The culture of Stuart Miller Solicitors is to look into every line of enquiry. We leave no stone unturned.
Having defended in many VAT offences cases and gained successful outcomes, we are familiar with all the different rates of VAT that can be charged on goods services, and what is qualified for exemption.
Our team are experienced and hold expertise on Company Law including what the roles and responsibilities are of the offices, directors and shareholders. This can change the outcome of a case. We also hold close relationships with QCs and Barristers that are exemplary in their work.
A case of this nature could affect both yours and your families future. Therefore, it’s essential that our team keep up to date with any changes to law and business. We do this by following all updates to law, media and by regularly engaging with business owners.
Call us to discuss your situation
The team at Stuart Miller Solicitors is always available to discuss your case with you. We can take any questions you may have, or even chat with you so that you can get to know us better. Our team are known for being friendly and approachable in addition to being some of the best legal minds in the country.
There is an emergency number at the top of the page that you can call if you need immediate support, such as in the case of being arrested and needing representation at the police station.
Another task that we can do for you is to look into how we can secure legal aid for you. Even if you don’t qualify for legal aid, then rest assured that our fees are typically very competitive and we will advise you of what the charges are before undertaking work, wherever possible.
If you would like a face to face meeting, a phone call or a video call with us, then get in contact today. Otherwise, if you are using a mobile phone, you should be able to see a WhatsApp link at the bottom of the page.