The Treasury Sub-Committee has recently opened an inquiry into the conduct of tax enquiries and the resolution of tax disputes.

The inquiry follows on from the annual reports produced by HMRC’s Tax Assurance Commissioner which started in 2013 and which outline HMRC's performance in resolving disputes with taxpayers.

HMRC carries out enquiries to check in detail that the information on a tax return is correct and complete.

  • In its code of governance for resolving tax disputes, HMRC set out internal governance processes that are intended to ensure that it deals with all tax disputes fairly.
  • Some people question whether HMRC does 'sweetheart deals' with and shows preferential treatment to big business, whilst others feel that they have received harsh treatment from HMRC.

The Sub-Committee will examine whether HMRC’s approach to conducting tax enquiries, resolving tax disputes, and determining the amount of tax to be paid meets the standards set out in its code of governance and invites the submission of evidence in response to any of the following questions:

  • How do HMRC governance and settlement processes affect its ability to resolve tax disputes in a proportionate and fair way?
  • Does HMRC’s litigation and settlement strategy provide a rational and sound framework for resolving tax disputes?
  • Do HMRC’s collection and management powers set out in the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 provide HMRC with sufficient flexibility to achieve cost-effective and fair results?
  • Does HMRC’s approach to enforcing compliance with tax law, including its approach to penalties and other sanctions, result in disproportionate or unjust outcomes? If so, how can the situation be remedied?
  • Is there sufficient governance over the whole of HMRC’s enquiry process to ensure that HMRC’s interventions are well-targeted and that taxpayers are treated fairly and professionally throughout?
  • Do HMRC’s governance processes provide sufficient scrutiny and assurance for clearances and approvals given to taxpayers outside the formal enquiry process.

Responses are invited by 31 May 2018 and can be made here

External Links:

HMRC Code of governance for resolving tax disputes

Tax Assurance Commissioners reports: How we resolve tax disputes