James Cordiner, Tax Investigations Manager at Markel Tax, suggests 10 ways accountancy practices can deal with HMRC enquiries on behalf of their clients.
Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) enquiries – which can be carried out on businesses and individuals – can be very stressful, time-consuming and costly for clients. It’s therefore vitally important that a professional accountant offers valuable guidance throughout the whole process to ensure clients achieve the best possible outcome with HMRC.
- Always check the validity of the enquiry notice issued by HMRC and challenge this where appropriate.
- Review the schedule of information and documents requested line by line to ensure the requests made are reasonable and relevant to the period under review.
- Consider having an early conversation with the Compliance Officer with a view to identifying the key areas of concern and the rationale behind the requests made. Keep HMRC informed at all stages, as a bit of rapport does no harm.
- Be confident in challenging HMRC on any areas as you see fit and don’t be shy in asking questions.
- Have a direct conversation with your client at the outset of the enquiry to ensure there are no issues to be disclosed.
- Request an extension from the Compliance Officer where necessary in advance of formal action being taken.
- Encourage co-operation with the enquiry process but remember there is no obligation to meet with HMRC so always consider what is in the client’s best interests.
- Consider all avenues to resolve any disputes that arise such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Review and as a last resort Tribunal.
- If errors have arisen, carefully review the behaviour that led to those errors to ensure that HMRC’s conclusions on penalties are fair and reasonable.
- Double check all settlement calculations issued by HMRC to ensure these are correct.
If you have any queries on the above or need any assistance in this area, please contact Markel Tax's Tax Investigations Team on 0333 305 3667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.