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Tax Enquiry Support

Receiving a tax enquiry letter from HM Revenue & Customs can be a daunting prospect, but these are often issued entirely randomly or based on one or two “risk” areas being present on your tax returns.  These perceived risks could be anything from having made a large pension contribution, claiming tax relief for bad debts or simply being engaged in an industry that HMRC perceives to typically underpay tax.

The key to dealing with a HMRC tax enquiry is to ensure that it is addressed promptly and with proper consideration.  If you have made a mistake on your tax return, then this can be dealt with.  Alternatively, if you are required to explain why you have filed your return in a particular way, then dealing with this clearly and concisely can result in the tax enquiry being closed promptly without any amendments being needed.

From a legal perspective, the HMRC powers are limited as to what information can be required from a taxpayer, although in many instances a request is made for information that goes beyond this.  There is a fine balance between co-operating with HMRC and disclosing more information that you are obligated to provide.

We have considerable experience in assisting clients in dealing with HMRC enquiries, including reviewing the original information requests to advise whether documents are disclosable.

We also have tax expertise to present technical arguments for the tax position filed, and practical experience of negotiating settlements where necessary.

The penalty regime which applies where there is an inaccuracy in the information filed is based heavily on the behaviour of the taxpayer.  An honest mistake is subject to a much lower penalty than a deliberate one where attempts have been made to conceal a tax liability.  If you receive an enquiry notice, it is essential that you act quickly and honestly in order to mitigate any penalties that could otherwise arise.

The other point to be aware of is that if HMRC agrees to settle a tax liability, it is important to include all relevant taxes within this.  It is all too easy to agree to settle an income tax liability, only to discover later that there are also National Insurance costs that hadn’t been covered.

Give us a call if you need any assistance with HMRC enquiries at any stage; we offer practical advice on how to resolve enquiries, coupled with technical tax expertise, and have particular expertise in dealing with enquiries into Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT’s) of any variation.

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