Top 10 tips for attending a Code of Practice 9 or Contractual Disclosure Facility meeting

Sean Wakeman, Partner, Head of Tax Resolutions
Meetings with HMRC need to be handled with care at the best of times, but lack of preparation for a Code of Practice 9 (COP9), also known as the Contractual Disclosure facility (CDF) meeting can have disastrous consequences.

Here are some of our top suggestions to prepare you for a CDF meeting:

  1. If possible, always hold the meeting at the advisor’s offices; this will allow for the advisor to have better control over the meeting, including when to terminate it, if required.
  2. Never attend a COP9 meeting on your own. Always go with a tax investigations specialist.
  3. Never attend a COP9 meeting if you have a serious health condition including heart disease or are susceptibility to high blood pressure incidents. If you do choose to attend, all health-related conditions should be brought to the attention of the officers at the outset of the meeting.
  4. Find out the names of all the officers attending the meeting on behalf of HMRC and their respective roles (usually one will ask the questions from a pre-prepared script and the other will take down handwritten notes of responses). Most meetings would normally only be attended by two officers. If there is a third officer, find out why this is.
  5. Avoid meetings over the internet; these can make it difficult for your advisor to advise you properly as well as offering scope for ‘technology’ interruptions which could leave you for vital minutes without representation.
  6. Limit the meetings to no more than three hours. A good start time will usually be 10:30 allowing proceedings to conclude before lunch. An experienced HMRC officer should have no problem fitting in what they need to do in such an allocation of time. Meetings that drag on for four, five or six hours run the risk of exhausting the client which will lead to confusion and erroneous information being given.
  7. Be honest and truthful but do not try to answer questions to which you do not know the answer. It is better to say that you do not know but can find out after the meeting.
  8. If you do not understand the question then say so. Equally, if you do not know the period to which a question refers then ask the officer to be more specific.
  9. Do not waffle. Keep answers short, concise and to the point, otherwise you could be there for a very long time. Officers do not want to hear your life stories but will gladly jot down any additional information which you freely provide.
  10. If you need a comfort break then ask for one. Equally, if you need to speak to your advisor at any point then it is okay to make such a request.

Following these few, simple guidelines will get you quickly through what for some can be a very traumatic event.

For further assistance regarding the COP9 or CDF process please contact Sean Wakeman or any member of Crowe’s Tax Resolutions team.

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Sean Wakeman
Sean Wakeman
Partner, Tax Resolutions