How long do you go to jail for tax evasion?

The fraudulent evasion of taxes is a criminal offence and can lead to committal to prison for cheating HMRC, providing false documents or information and the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.  For most offences, the sentence can be up to 7 years although there is an exception for cheating HMRC, which can lead to a life sentence.

An essential requirement for a criminal prosecution, as for many criminal offences, is for HMRC’s legal advisors to demonstrate that the taxpayer was dishonest.  Innocent participation in a tax scheme, especially where it is on advice, cannot be comprised as dishonesty and will not normally lead to a penal sentence.

However, if the Crown consider dishonesty can be proven, then it is often the case that they will prosecute and for most offences you may face a prison sentence of up to 7 years, dependant on the severity of the fraud.

For the offence of cheating HMRC, the prison sentence can be a life sentence together with an unlimited penalty.  This generally refers only to the most serious cases of Tax Evasion but can often include circumstances such as MTIC fraud, where a deliberate arrangement was entered into solely for the purpose of defrauding HMRC of large VAT receipts.

However, and most importantly, there is no need for any actual loss to have occurred for the criminal charges (and the potential life sentence) to be brought.  As with all investigations and enquiries by HMRC, it is vital to seek advice urgently.

At Francis Wilks & Jones we have considerable experience of negotiations with HMRC, including Accelerated Payment Notices, Personal Liability Notices, VAT Security or any other claim - including appeals to Tax Tribunals or insolvency claims by Liquidators.

Please call any member of our Tax Disputes team for your consultation now on 020 7841 0390.  Alternatively email us with your enquiry at info@franciswilksandjones.co.uk and we will call you back at a time convenient to you.