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It is always pleasing to see how our experienced team of tax advisers continue to ensure our clients are treated fairly in a tax investigation by ensuring HMRC are made to act fairly. Two cases recently have meant the clients have had initial penalty notifications significantly reduced following challenges to HMRC. A summary of these are below.
Our client (despite registering for Self-Assessment) came to us having never submitted a tax return after becoming self-employed (cameraman) straight from university and wanted our help to bring his compliance affairs up to date.
We didn’t just help him through the disclosure process and ease his fears, we were also able to reduce his tax liability by being able to advise him on what expenses he could claim tax relief. Once we had done our calculations, using the Digital Disclosure Service we made a submission in early March with a supplementary letter providing HMRC with a good quality summary of how the failure occurred and our view on the client’s behavior, this helped when we put forward our penalty proposition which was based on full mitigation.
HMRC came back with full agreement to our clients offer and all that was left for us to do was negotiate a Time To Pay agreement, where we managed secure a 24 month payment plan.
As part of an ongoing PAYE investigation, HMRC sought to charge penalties for careless behaviour on a number of separate aspects but chose to suspend penalties on only a small amount of these, meaning large penalties would become payable.
The use of suspended penalties is to encourage a client to change how they approach their tax obligations to ensure no future errors will occur. This approach is used to educate rather than penalise a client with the benefit of a penalty not being collected if the client demonstrates they have changed their ways.
We disputed the partial suspension, arguing that all the penalties should be suspended as HMRC had accepted there was no deliberate conduct and that satisfactory measures could be put in place to avoid the same errors repeating themselves. HMRC eventually agreed to this following our representation, saving the client a significant immediate payment.
If you are in dispute with HMRC and wish for an HMRC case success, then please contact Vincent Costello who would be pleased to discuss your case.
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