Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is the failure to pay taxes by deliberately making a false report.  The Taxes Management Act 1970 set out the laws surrounding tax evasion. The conduct must be dishonest, and sanctions will be imposed on those who are 'knowingly concerned' in the fraudulent evasion of income tax, i.e. the person has both knowledge and involvement in the fraud by deliberately failing to submit tax returns or by taking steps to evade liability. Allegations of tax evasion can include the furnishing of false information or the involvement in fraudulent schemes or arrangements set up to channel undeclared income.

The Value Added Tax Act 1994 (VATA 1994) sets out the specific offences relating to the deliberate non-payment of VAT. Allegations of multiple offences can be brought by way of a single charge, which enables charges to be brought where the HMRC cannot identify how a fraud has been carried out.  The maximum sentence on conviction on indictment is imprisonment not exceeding seven years or an unlimited fine, or both. Professionals engaged in providing tax advice are also subject to penalties if they fail to meet the acceptable conduct in promoting the use of tax efficient schemes and frameworks.

The line between tax mitigation and tax evasion is ever changing. Bright Line Law have a vast amount of experience in advising both business and individual clients on disputes with HMRC. Jonathan Fisher QC, leads our barrister-led practice, and is regularly instructed to act for clients accused of breaching anti-avoidance rules. He has previously been involved in advising on the use of, and regulatory investigation of film industry, and offshore tax schemes. We have also been instructed to represent clients in criminal and civil litigation initiated by HMRC.  Jonathan Fisher QC was Standing Counsel to HM Commissioners of Inland Revenue (the predecessor to HMRC) between 1991 and 2003. 

Jonathan Fisher QC
Lead Counsel

Telephone + 020 3872 2852

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