If you call HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) take detailed notes, so you can refer to them in the event of a dispute.

There have been a number of disputes where either taxpayers were misadvised or misunderstood advice given to them on the phone by HMRC. In one recent case1 a court cited a failure to take notes of a conversation with HMRC as a factor in rejecting an application for judicial review. 

Robin Williamson, Director of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) says: 

“When ringing HMRC, it is essential to keep a careful note of the date and time of the call, to whom you spoke, and what was said. Otherwise you may be at a disadvantage if you have to prove that you called HMRC in a later dispute. 

“While business by telephone makes HMRC more accessible to the ordinary taxpayer, one of its drawbacks is that a caller might act, or refrain from acting, in reliance on what HMRC said – or, more to the point, on their recollection of what HMRC said. This can become an acute problem for the caller who does not have a professional representative with whom to double-check information and advice they receive from HMRC.”  

LITRG is a campaigning organisation set up the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) to give a voice to the unrepresented.

Tax case 

  1. The case mentioned by the LITRG is that of R (on the application of Corkteck Ltd) v HMRC [2009] EWHC 785 (Admin). Corkteck applied for the judicial review on the grounds of breach of legitimate expectation, claiming that HMRC had reneged on an advanced clearance, assurance or promise made in a phone call to a helpline. The application was rejected by the Administrative Court. One factor cited by the court was that the company’s director had not made any contemporaneous note of the conversation. (HMRC had.)