HMRC is currently "hitting the phones" according to reports, but we are not talking about any new drive to pep up call centres...

Ken Frost notes in his blog that HMRC investigators are starting to phone the owners of previously undisclosed Swiss Bank accounts. HMRC obtained details of alleged tax defaulters following the disclosures made by a disgruntled bank employee to the German tax authorities two years ago.

How do taxpayers stand when it comes to phone calls? Everything you say, will be taken down and used...the following case illustrates this point.

The first Tier Tax Tribunal’s decision in Dr Michael Wilkinson [2010] UKFTT 283 (TC) TC00572 did not set any new legal precedent: the case concerned deductability of a hospital doctor’s removal expense (disallowed) and travel between hospitals (disallowed) and emergency call out travel (allowed). More interesting were its findings concerning the outcome of a telephone call between HMRC and the doctor.

We learn that “Having considered all of the evidence before it as a whole, the Tribunal finds that the facts claimed by the Appellant…are established on a balance of probabilities.  The only evidence to contradict the Appellant’s evidence of these facts are documents generated by HMRC which record HMRC’s understanding of a telephone conversation with the Appellant.  The Appellant acknowledged that he may not have communicated the facts to HMRC sufficiently clearly, but said that the HMRC understanding of the conversation was not correct."

The Tribunal, as it turned out, found the Appellant’s evidence of the fact, and his explanation for the inconsistency of his evidence and HMRC's account was credible.

Those who are fielding phone calls about their secret Swiss Bank accounts may have some difficulty in establishing credibility to a Tribunal. Probably safest to ensure that all conversations are recorded.


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