Tax Disputes and Investigations
We act for and defend businesses and individuals of all shapes and sizes caught up in a wide range of domestic, EU and international tax disputes involving HMRC and interaction with other tax authorities. An area of core expertise involves VAT disputes, Investigations and recovery of input tax but also covers other taxes. Our job is to challenge HMRC when they seek to act, as they sometimes do, outside of their powers.
Clients are drawn from almost every sector as no one is immune from HMRC and taxes. We can step in at any stage from the initial enquiry letter issued by HMRC through to tax litigation and settlement with HMRC.
Many of our cases do settle which is almost invariably good news for any taxpayer. We offer the practical and legal skills needed to defend against the actions of HMRC. Accountants find it helpful to entrust a case such as a VAT dispute to us, knowing that we evaluate the evidence from a legal standpoint and reach an early assessment as to the merits, while being able to defend the proceedings robustly before the Tax Tribunal. If you do not have a strong case, we will tell you.
We can guide you through the entire process, analysing where HMRC have misapplied the law and leveraging upwards from that point. We have many years’ experience of resisting millions of pounds in demands for taxes and penalties on behalf of businesses. HMRC have internal targets to meet for the amount of taxes, penalties and interest which they recover. If the investigation is not handled properly, this could result in serious financial disadvantage, even bankruptcy, to you and your business.
We act as your agent for the recovery of EU VAT refunds for businesses established and registered for VAT purposes within EU states. EU businesses need agents to avoid having their EU VAT refund applications rejected, which is a regular occurrence causing businesses to miss out on millions of pounds of EU VAT refunds.
The law surrounding the custom duty payable on goods imported, modified and developed and then sold on is complex and different rates of assessment apply. Disputes arise which can impact on the profits available on the goods. Another area of dispute arises on the tariffs due on imports, particularly high value goods, such as metals and art. A practical working knowledge of the import and export customs regime, combined with knowledge of latest practices, can put you at a substantial advantage. We are experienced in bringing a successful appeal on behalf of businesses whose application for licences to import have been declined.
VAT is a complex area of law where HMRC have task forces monitoring and verifying business transactions. We are experienced in successfully challenging HMRC’s refusal of legitimate claims for VAT repayments. HMRC may fail to apply the law correctly and this also has been a successful area of challenge. Changes in legislation including as part of a post-EU adjustment in the UK tax regime can result in further areas of dispute.
HMRC have increased the pace of investigations into tax evasion. They have the power to prosecute tax avoiders and deal with evasion as a criminal offence including prison. For advisers there is the risk of prosecution for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. Obtaining professional advice as early as possible is almost invariably hugely advantageous to the outcome. There is often scope to negotiate before charges are brought. We are able to represent clients at the police station who are being interviewed under caution by the police and HMRC. We are also experienced in advising on response to ‘dawn raids’.
In appropriate cases where HMRC have abused their position of power, we may challenge by means of bringing judicial review proceedings. The threat of a judicial review challenge may be enough to deter HMRC and apply the law appropriately. The same also applies to the use of search warrants, disclosure failures and use of information.
HMRC is vigorously pursuing claims erroneously paid to employers under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, collecting double the amount wrongly claimed as a penalty. Early advice including making voluntary disclosure and arguing mitigating circumstances can significantly reduce the penalties.
HMRC carry out compliance checks on businesses and individuals. We are able to establish what triggered the check, ensuring that you are paying the correct amount of tax at the right time, claiming the correct allowances and tax reliefs and that the tax system is operating fairly.