HMRC Information Notices
In 2009 new powers to force people to provide information to HMRC were brought into force to make it easier for HMRC to gather information.
Despite assurance that these powers would not be abused it would appear that as with most such assurances they have come to nothing. HMRC staff have been instructed to issue information notices at an early stage, regardless of the circumstances, and accountants and individuals will soon find themselves at the forefront of this unreasonable approach by HMRC.
Is this to improve the quality of cases as they have suggested to us? Or merely a way of getting more fines by making unreasonable requests, with insufficient time given so that people who are not represented properly end up paying thousands of pounds in fines?
HMRC will also then use the imposition of these fines to restrict penalty mitigation if any tax is due and this will add more costs for individuals merely by the fact that HMRC are, in our opinion, abusing their powers to send out information notices.
HMRC are now sending requests for information to taxpayers and if it is not provided in the time scale they suggest (and we have seen a 21 day deadline where the post has taken 10 days from leaving HMRC to arriving at our client) then HMRC are in many cases automatically issuing formal information notices. If this information notice is not complied with or appropriate action taken, then an initial fine is imposed of up to £300 for failing to comply with the information notice. In addition to this fines of up to £60 per day can be imposed for each day after the initial penalty is determined and the information provided. This equates to £1830 for 30 days.
Thus when anyone receives a formal information notice they should take this very seriously otherwise they could be looking at a total fine of £2,130 for a 30 day delay.
How to Deal with an Information Notice
Realistically the process starts when HMRC send a request for the information informally. HMRC have due processes with regards to what information they are allowed to ask for and why they ask for it.
Out of all of the information notices we have seen as a firm, there has not been one information notice which follows these due processes.
So the first thing to do when you receive an information notice is to look at it to see if it is valid.
Where HMRC request information they should have regard to the requirements and considerations as set out in their own guidelines and instructions as well as the requirements of the legislation.
So what are the requirements HMRC are duty bound to follow when issuing information notices?
Gilbert Tax understands that people sometimes make mistakes in their dealings with HMRC and that HMRC make mistakes in dealing with taxpayers. Many people do not know how to deal with HMRC or who to turn to for help resolve the tax dispute.
Gilbert Tax is a firm of tax advisors who specialise in resolving people's problems with HMRC. We have extensive expertise in dealing with all forms of tax investigations and tax disputes as well as with taking matters to the Tax Tribunal where agreement cannot be reached.
Gilbert Tax deal both directly with the individual who is under enquiry and also work with many firms of accountants supporting them in dealing with HMRC disputes and advising them on how to handle HRMC to get the best result.
The fact is that proper management of HMRC is the best way of reducing the tax, interest and penalty as well as the time taken in resolving any tax dispute.
Gilbert Tax are none judgemental and rigorously defend your position within the scope and parameter of the law. We take control and manage the process to minimise the interruptions that any form of tax investigation causes to an individual's life and business.