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HMRC internal manual

Fraud Civil Investigation Manual

Where CDF offer is made 30 June 2014 onwards: action following issue of Code of Practice 9: action following the issue of opening letter

Once the opening letter, COP9 and offer of a contract have been issued, the customer has 60 days from the date that they receive the letter to either accept or reject the offer. If the customer ignores the offer or makes an invalid disclosure then they will be treated as having rejected the offer.

Following the issue of the opening letter you must not enter into any discussions with the customer, or their appointed agent, about the reasons behind your concerns, or any other aspect of the person’s tax affairs which could fall within the scope of your investigation. Any such discussion could prejudice the course of a criminal investigation.

If the customer, or their agent, has any questions about the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) process you should refer them to the COP9 Centre.

This period of silence will end after a decision has been made, which can only be after one of the following points:

  • The offer is accepted and all relevant documents are received.
  • The offer is rejected (including cases where no response has been received within 60 days) and the case is not taken up by FIS (Crime) at that time.
  • At any point where you have referred a case to FIS (Crime), you must not discuss the case with the customer, until you receive a response from your FIS (Crime) SPOC.

As stated, a customer can either accept, reject or ignore the offer of CDF. Taking up the initial offer of a CDF is the only way that the customer can be certain that HMRC will not pursue a criminal investigation of the tax frauds that are disclosed.

If, following an initial rejection, the customer, or their agent, changes their mind and seeks a contract the original rejection still stands, even if you are still within the 60 day period.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Extension of the 60 day period can only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, see FCIM204030.

If the customer does not manage to fulfil the terms for CDF then you must proceed on the basis that the offer has been rejected. In this situation the customer may still cooperate with your enquiries and reduce any penalties, but they will do so without the absolute assurance that HMRC cannot start a criminal investigation.