Inland Revenue tax investigations are most UK tax payer’s nightmare. And it’s not something you’d want to do alone. In fact, the best way to deal with tax investigations is to avoid them if at all possible.
Either way, expert guidance helps to minimize the stress level and, if you choose the right advisor, can help avoid the worst outcomes.
We asked Bob Evans, a 40 year veteran in tax investigations and an expert in utilizing the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility – a UK approved legal offshore ‘loophole’ – to give us some idea of how to go about choosing the right advisor for your tax problems when you are either already facing an Inland Revenue tax review or believe you soon could be.
As one of the biggest dangers you face in such an investigation are the penalties for unreported assets, especially offshore bank accounts, Evans advises that the earlier you seek advice the better.
Evans says that many of his clients tell him they wish they’d known about him ten years earlier because they’ve lived with the stress and worry unnecessarily – and as we all know, severe stress and anxiety has a serious impact on both our health and our relationships.
So, if you have undeclared assets such as offshore bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, property and so on, how do you choose a tax investigation specialist who can help you avoid tax problems and still protect your offshore assets?
According to Evans, the most obvious choice are one of the big accounting firms such as KPMG or Arthur Anderson. But, he says, not everyone needs such a heavy hitter with equally heavy hitting fees. In many instances, there are independent advisors who will not only give you the kind of friendly approach you want, but also provide a very high quality of service at a much more reasonable fee.
Finding such an advisor Tax Advisors may seem difficult if you haven’t faced this situation before. How do you know how good they are – and how do you know you can trust them to find the best possible solution for your specific situation?
Evans says there are a few criteria you can use to quickly establish a tax advisor’s credentials.
Look for someone who is an ex-Inland Revenue investigator themselves – preferably someone who operated as a top level senior investigator in the Enquiry Branch. This gives them an invaluable insider understanding of how HMRC works with regard to the tax investigation process. They understand what HMRC is looking for, how they identify ‘red flags’ and more importantly, they understand how to defuse the situation by providing HMRC with the information they want but in such a way as to offer you the maximum protection.
In addition, this person should have a good reputation with the HMRC officials. They should be known as ‘fair fighters’. If they have a good reputation, you will immediately reap the benefit of that. Once again, it helps to lessen the aggression and puts a more amicable ‘barrier’ between you and the HMRC investigators.