Corporate Criminal Offence legislation – what your business needs to do

Susie Walker

Susie Walker

Partner and Head of Tax and Brexit Team

HMRC has opened its first round of investigations into UK businesses that have failed to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion under the Corporate Criminal Offence (CCO) legislation.

The legislation affects all businesses and any businesses that have not yet carried out a risk assessment and implemented appropriate measures should do so with the upmost urgency.

In this short blog we’ve summarised some of the key areas you need to know about CCO and your next steps to complete your assessment.

What is the CCO?

The legislation came into force in September 2017 and in essence it created two corporate offences – one relating to tax evasion in the UK and the other relating to foreign tax evasion. Any UK business is within the scope of both offences so it’s important to be fully aware of the legislation and the action you need to take.

What happens if businesses don’t act?

Failure to assess your business and put preventative measures in place means you are at risk of prosecution with the possible penalties being:

  • An unlimited fine
  • Public record of the conviction
  • Significant reputational damage and adverse publicity.

Who needs to take the lead on CCO within the business?

From our experience it tends to be the head of legal or risk and compliance, however, the responsibility for assessing all risks and creating appropriate policy will come down to the finance function.

I‘ve not acted yet, what do I need to do?

As the legislation has been in place for nearly two years now, there will be an expectation from HMRC that you have reasonable procedures in place. If you don’t some of the key things to think about are: creating a risk assessment report; implement measures to combat risks along with a timeline and responsibilities; train your staff at all levels and ensure you keep communicating on this; have a plan in place for monitoring and reviewing. You can find out more on the HMRC website.

How can we help

We’ve worked with clients to help them carry out their CCO assessment and planning. If you would like help to get started or would like to review existing plans and policy please get in touch with a member of the Corporate Tax team.