Tax investigation meetings with HMRC are something of an area of contention between specialists. It is one of those areas that cause much heated debate. As with all decisions we make during a tax investigation, our approach is one of flexibility. Sometimes a meeting is advisable because it will be productive. On other occasions the opposite can apply. Our useful guide below answers the key questions.
SHOULD YOU ATTEND A TAX INVESTIGATION MEETING WITH HMRC?
This is a question which attracts many different opinions amongst accountants, tax advisers and tax investigation specialists. Some will say never attend whatever the circumstances, others will offer the polar opposite view and say, you should always agree to meet with HMRC during an HMRC tax investigation. The first thing you need to be clear on is that you are not compelled to attend – at least during a local compliance tax investigation where HMRC are conducting a check of self assessment tax return. The situation is wholly different and more complex if HMRC suspect serious fraud. For more information on serious tax fraud tax investigations conducted by HMRC Fraud Investigation Service visit our dedicated page Code of Practice 9.
HMRC TAX INVESTIGATION ADVICE BASED ON MERIT
Our approach is one of considered merit. No two tax investigations are precisely the same, every case has its unique differences and presents its own peculiarities, so why be inflexible. What we do advise, very firmly, is that you should never attend an HMRC meeting without the attendance of a tax adviser or better still a tax investigation specialist. HMRC will in most cases invite you to attend a meeting.
This could be:
- At an HMRC office
- At your business premises
- At the offices of your tax advisers
Meetings can be suggested by HMRC at various stages throughout the course of an HMRC tax investigation.
The HMRC Inspector will often invite you to attend a meeting very early on during your HMRC tax investigation. This will usually occur after they have examined your business records. The Inspector will begin an opening meeting with a series of open questions designed to gain a better understanding of your business operations and of course to identify any weaknesses in your record keeping. The Inspector will likely challenge you, perhaps aggravate you and almost certainly have his or her own thoughts on the integrity of your accounts following their review of your business records.
These meetings can be challenging and our general advice is not to attend. After all, it is only fair that we first establish that there is a case to answer. For that reason, we generally open contact with HMRC in writing, seeking clarity on any issues that they identify early on. In short we look to get to the heart of any problems as quickly as possible. This saves our clients time, huge amounts of stress and of course money.
Meetings with HMRC during the course of an HMRC tax investigation are more of a rarity, but they can present a sensible, practical way of moving your case closer to a negotiated settlement. After all you want the matter put to bed as soon as possible. If we feel a meeting with HMRC is appropriate during the course of an investigation, we will attend – usually alone. There are key tactical reasons for this approach. Regardless we will ensure that are kept fully informed throughout, copying you in on the meeting notes and naturally all associated correspondence.
When you instruct Admiral Tax to act for you, you will never be left in the dark. Remember, protracted investigations can result in unnecessary conflict, entrenched positions and naturally, higher fees. We maintain a flexible approach throughout our management of your tax investigation. Our objective is to secure efficient closure in the minimum time frame, with no compromise on quality. We will be firm and robust in our defence of you, protect your rights under the legislation and treat you as more than just a name on an invoice.
This is obviously the key moment in any HMRC tax investigation. From day one, you will want to know how much tax, if any, you will have to pay. You will want to feel secure in the knowledge that your adviser has the skills necessary to reach agreement on your behalf. Our policy, generally speaking, is to meet with HMRC at point of closure. Our experience tells us that face to face meetings ensure our clients the very best final settlements.
It enables us to sit down with the Inspector and thrash out suitable terms. We pride ourselves on our ability to negotiate firmly and robustly on behalf of all of our clients. The many emails and letters of thanks we receive are testimony to this.
GET YOURSELF THE RIGHT TAX INVESTIGATION ADVICE
Admiral Tax offer a specialist array of HMRC tax investigation services, including attendance and representation at HMRC meetings. With the UK’s leading HMRC tax investigation specialists in your corner, you will begin to regain control of your life. Moreover, you will very quickly see light at the end of the tunnel.