The modernising powers regime at
& Customs must include full separation of criminal and civil
investigations, the CIoT has warned.
The tax body, in its response to HMRC’s consultation paper on modernising
powers, welcomed plans to separate investigations from prosecution, and civil
from criminal investigation.
But the CIoT
warned that powers to investigate tax fraud must not be used to
handle tax avoidance.
‘The difficulty that arises is that officers of HMRC, whose main job is to
protect revenue, may not recognise the distinction,’ the CIoT stated. ‘It is
insufficient to say that HMRC policy will safeguard against intrusive
investigation under the guise of a genuinely held belief that criminal activity
‘Experience demonstrates that, once something is categorised as “wrong”, many
people are unable to distinguish what is criminal and what is not.’
The CIoT was also worried about HMRC gaining information under civil
investigations that could be passed onto people involved in criminal
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