A4.592 Overlap of penalties and criminal liability

Administration and compliance

A4.592 Overlap of penalties and criminal liability

A4.592 Overlap of penalties and criminal liability


The UK has a system of penalties classified within its domestic law structure as civil, as well as a system of criminal sanctions. The criminal route will involve allegations of dishonesty and will usually only be taken in cases of serious or persistent abuse. Suspected criminal offences are investigated by HMRC but are now prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Relevant criminal offences

The most serious criminal offences in relation to direct tax matters are as follows:


    •     Cheating the public revenue: This is a well established common law offence. Cheating can include any form of fraudulent conduct which results in diverting money away from HMRC or depriving HMRC of monies to which it is entitled. It does not require a positive act of deceit1. In practice the offence is reserved for the most serious misconduct and usually results in long terms of imprisonment upon conviction.


    •     Fraudulent evasion of income tax2: This offence is for straightforward cases of misconduct. It carries a maximum

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