With over 20 years of experience, their expertise extends from voluntary disclosures through to assisting with civil fraud investigations by HMRC, including risk reviews (primarily of offshore trusts) and reviews of clients’ wider UK tax affairs.
One service Hamilton Rose offers specifically on behalf of intermediaries is risk reviews of structures and/or situations, designed to demonstrate due diligence.
According to Burns, this will be especially in demand with the advent of requirement to correct (RTC) and the incoming corporate criminal offence (CCO) of failing to prevent tax evasion, which will hold the board of the corporate criminally liable.
"Advisers are reviewing their client base and processes to ensure they are not making themselves liable for their client’s actions."
“HMRC will be able to hold companies criminally liable for an employee or associate’s actions that they consider facilitate tax evasion,” she told International Adviser.
“The only defence that directors have is that adequate processes are in place to ensure that employees and associates can’t assist their clients to evade tax. Failure to demonstrate this could lead to unlimited fines. Potentially, HMRC could also utilise their existing wider powers to prosecute the individual tax adviser directly.
“The CCO legislation, coupled with the requirement to correct legislation, should mean that all advisers are reviewing their client base and processes to ensure they are not making themselves liable for their client’s actions.”
Tax non compliance identifier platform
Hamilton Rose has access to specialist software, Lance (Liability and Non-Compliance Evaluator), that can assist with some of these situations. The platform provides an independent report to a trust service provider (TSP), detailing areas which may not be compliant with UK tax legislation and minimises the time and costs associated with a manual review.
“Lance is a game changer in terms of assessing the historic UK compliance of an offshore trust and, going forward, will prove to be invaluable for a TSP in protecting their clients and themselves,” says Brassey.
An accountant’s specialist knowledge can then be focused on the aspects that need specific attention.
As Burns notes: “There is the added incentive for any clients who may have a UK tax irregularity to make a prompt disclosure before the “failure to correct” penalties (which can be up to 300% of the tax due) come into play in October 2018. Clearly, both CCO and RTC are draconian pieces of legislation, which will allow HMRC to clamp down even harder on perceived UK tax avoidance and evasion.
“We can risk review a book of clients or a particular situation and we can help the client make a voluntary disclosure, if necessary.
“We recognise that this is often the first time a client (or their adviser) has been in this position with HMRC and appreciate that it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Our focus is always on the client and their best interests.”
Prior to Lancaster Knox, where she assisted high net worth individuals and families, Burns worked in specialist tax investigations at Grant Thornton where Brassey was a senior manager.
Correction: In the original headline, the company was incorrectly referred to as a law firm. Hamilton Rose is a private client tax advice firm – not a law firm.