HMRC have to undertake regular ‘compliance’ activity – that is, various checks to make sure people are paying the right amount of tax. We understand this, particularly to the extent that it is necessary to protect the Exchequer and to thwart those who deliberately seek to evade their taxes.
HMRC’s compliance activities include:
- raising enquiries into self assessment tax returns
- asking for information or documents to check a person’s ‘tax position’
- asking for additional information in respect of a claim for relief or allowances
- inspecting taxpayers’ records
- visiting business premises
And if they think all is not well, HMRC will aim to put things right and may seek to charge a penalty.
It is necessary, though, to protect the interests of the compliant majority as well as those who get things wrong through ignorance or who try their best to fulfil tax obligations but who make genuine or perhaps careless mistakes. Therefore, throughout the consultation process to update HMRC’s powers, LITRG has fought for taxpayer rights and safeguards. These are now written into the law and stop HMRC from unchecked use of their powers.
But LITRG has long argued that such rights and safeguards are only effective to the extent that the taxpayer knows about them. We are therefore disappointed that HMRC’s compliance factsheets do not cover them fully. They are after all the primary source of information an unrepresented taxpayer has about his or her rights when faced with a compliance check or enquiry.
We have therefore sought to bring them together in our own mini-series of factsheets, links to each of which can be found at the foot of this article.
We also continue to press for HMRC to include all of this information in their own publications. In the meantime, we would be interested to hear if anyone has particular examples of HMRC practice during compliance activity – good or bad – that they wish to share.
To read each of our ‘rights and safeguards’ factsheets, use the links below:
Contact Name: Robin Williamson (Tel: 0844 579 6700 Fax 0844 579 6701)
To open the file click below:
1. Your rights and safeguards - taxpayer information notice
2. Your rights and safeguards - third party information notice
3. Your rights and safeguards - inspections
4. Your rights and safeguards - notice of enquiry into return
5. Your rights and safeguards - penalties