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Tax Q&A: Meeting with HMRC officer after penalties imposed

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3 minute read.

This Q&A answered by Arthur Weller was featured in Tax Insider Professional in September 2019. Start your free trial today to read all previous Q&As and articles.


A taxpayer is subject to a FA 2008, Sch 36 information request, and HMRC has asked for an unfairly large amount of information. Almost all the information has been supplied, but nevertheless HMRC issued penalties three days after the deadline request. A face-to-face meeting with the HMRC officer has been arranged. Any advice? 


Firstly, the accountant should meet the HMRC officer, but without the client. Clients sometimes say things they shouldn’t say or divulge more information than necessary. Secondly, in the meeting, try to get the HMRC officer to do the talking, and make a point of listening to what he has to say. Look at it as though you are interviewing, or gently interrogating, him, not the other way round.

This will make it easier for you to understand where he is coming from, and what he is really is trying to achieve in this case. Once you understand him, you will be in a better position to deal with him effectively. Don’t be afraid to not commit yourself to anything. You can always say words to the effect: “OK I’ll think about what you have said and come back to you”.

In the meantime, ask for any penalties to be cancelled, while you are working on the job. If the HMRC officer proves to be unreasonable, or difficult to deal with, the next two steps are: (a) communicate with his direct superior in HMRC, who has the ability to override him; and (b) go to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). 

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