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Being investigated for VAT fraud can cause significant disruption for businesses and may result in severe penalties. If your business has been subject to a VAT fraud investigation, the expert business crime team at JMW Solicitors can help you mount a strong defence.
Our expert VAT fraud solicitors have years of experience in this field and will help you resolve the situation efficiently and effectively, minimising the negative impact on your company’s finances and day-to-day operations.
To speak to a solicitor as soon as possible if you are under investigation related to VAT fraud, get in touch by calling 0800 652 5559. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.
How JMW Can Help
The specialist VAT fraud solicitors at JMW can provide the best possible support and guidance on a wide range of topics relating to VAT investigations, including:
- Advice and assistance on the VAT investigation process
- Immediate response to dawn raids, arrests and interviews under caution
- Conducting carefully managed disclosures to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to avoid VAT investigations
- Defence of VAT fraud prosecution
- Challenging restraint orders
- Challenging confiscation proceedings
Our solicitors are available on a dedicated 24/7 helpline to ensure we can react as quickly as possible when you are notified of a VAT investigation. We will help you from the strongest possible team, all of whom are able to provide additional advice on complex cases. The team may include:
- Independent tax consultants
- Forensic tax accountants
- Specialist tax barristers
- Forensic computer experts
- Litigation support consultants
- Reputation management experts
- Media law advisers
The team has successfully defended and advised individuals, business owners, directors and high-level individuals in alleged tax fraud investigations and prosecutions. For your case to stand the best chance of success, you should seek our legal advice from the moment you are informed that you are under investigation. However, we are able to provide guidance and representation at any point during your case.
FAQs About VAT Investigations
What kind of transactions are investigated for VAT fraud?
When goods are exported from one EU country to another, the importer does not have to pay VAT, but in some circumstances VAT is charged as soon as the importer sells those goods domestically. The VAT collected in these transactions is supposed to be handed over to HMRC, but fraudulent businesses often fail to do so.
On a more sophisticated level, the goods that are imported are often put through a series of transactions where the VAT generated is effectively stolen. This “carousel fraud” is completed when the goods - often mobile phones - are exported back to the EU, allowing criminals to collect VAT amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
What penalties do companies face over VAT fraud?
If a business is suspected of being involved in VAT fraud, it can result in a number of harsh consequences and penalties, including:
- The business being subjected to a dawn raid
- Directors and employees being arrested
- Accounts being frozen by the use of restraint or freezing orders
- Staff being interviewed under caution by the police
- Trial of directors in the Crown Court
- Assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act
- Significant prison sentences
How are innocent companies negatively impacted by VAT investigations?
Although cases of VAT fraud are clearly illegal, there are also many similar transactions taking place every year that are completely legitimate and lawful. However, tax authorities frequently find it difficult to distinguish between fraudsters and lawful traders.
Even in cases where the HMRC acknowledges no criminal involvement, VAT refunds are not made, which can impact cash flow and budgets among innocent businesses. This issue is compounded by the low threshold for suspicion in these cases: for example, new businesses in the mobile phone or high-tech gadgetry industry often find themselves under suspicion, as well as those that see their sales grow exponentially over a short period of time.
Well-established businesses with a relatively good working relationship with the tax authorities are not immune from this type of draconian treatment either, which is why all companies should seek legal representation as soon as possible if they are subjected to a VAT investigation.