Who are the HMRC Fraud Investigations Service Unit and what do they do?

The Fraud Investigations Service Unit (FIS) is the 'Premier League' of HMRC investigators, and is staffed by many of its most able and experienced investigators who undertake either criminal or civil investigations.

Prior to the creation of HMRC in 2005, the unit was part of the former HM Inland Revenue and consisted of investigators who conducted either criminal or civil investigations. In the 1970’s and 1980’s it was previously known as Enquiry Branch and Special Office through to Special Compliance Office.  

Following the creation of HMRC in 2005, the unit was split into two distinct units;

  • Criminal Investigations (merged with former HM Customs and Excise Criminal Investigation Unit). 
  • Special Civil Investigations which was later rebranded as Specialist Investigations.

In late 2015, the Criminal Investigations and Specialist Investigations units were remerged to create FIS as a response to criticism (especially by the Public Accounts Committee) of HMRC failing to undertake successful prosecutions where there was tax evasion involving large sums of money.

Whilst the name and unit has been changed over the years the aim has remained the same, which is to undertake investigations to combat tax avoidance and tax fraud across all taxes HMRC has responsibility for.

For civil investigations, the main areas FIS is well known for are investigations under:

  • Code of Practice 9 (where fraud or dishonesty is suspected and may involve large amounts of tax) and,
  • Code of Practice 8 (which involves bespoke tax avoidance and or where COP9 is not considered appropriate).

Whichever Code of Practice is issued, it is a potentially very serious matter when FIS are involved and appropriately skilled professional advice is highly recommended. Indeed HMRC’s COP9 leaflet strongly advises a taxpayer to seek independent professional advice.

Since the creation of HMRC, the civil investigations side of FIS has increased its staff numbers and expanded its scope to include the Labour Providers Unit, an insolvency section, VAT fraud work and Inland Detection (fuel duty, alcohol & tobacco duty).

Mazars National Tax Investigations Group includes former HMRC Senior and FIS investigators with extensive experience of handling investigations undertaken by FIS.

Please contact us for a no obligation discussion without charge if you are subject to a FIS investigation to discuss how we can support you.

Please contact our team either by:

Sending a message via our Tax investigations national contacts

or phone on 020 7063 4639, 0161 238 9235 or 0121 232 9519