Dealing with a tax inspector’s calls…

Dealing with a tax inspector’s calls…

8:58 AM, 28th July 2011, About 13 years ago 1

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Ringing HM Revenue and Customs to try to find a sensible answer to a pressing tax problem is never easy.

Promising to answer calls when they ring is not the same as giving a reasonable answer to a taxpayer’s questions.

Landlords suffer as much as anyone else from the frustration of dealing with HMRC.

Many tax advisers have a checklist for speaking to HMRC:

  1. Note the date and time of the call and number dialled
  2. Take the name of the person dealing with the call
  3. Note the conversation and clarify any points
  4. Write to the tax office referring to the call and detailing the conversation. Ask them to contact you in writing if they do not agree with your notes of the call
  5. File a copy of the letter

Taxpayers who are unsure of the status of inquires with HMRC can take a backdoor approach that will deliver results called a subject access request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act.

HMRC must disclose any relevant information held about a taxpayer if an SAR is received.

A tax inspector does not have to reveal information about an ongoing investigation, but the file will include details of correspondence, transcripts of telephone conversations and other personal details.

To find out what the taxman has on file, a taxpayer must write to the data protection officer at the relevant office where the files are held.

Specify the precise information required, like copies of correspondence and telephone calls.

HMRC can charge a £10 fee for each SAR made.

Landlords can make an SAR request to any organisation registered under the Data Protection Act, including banks, mortgage lenders, councils and credit card issuers.

SARS are particularly useful for taxpayers who have received specific advice not to file a form or tax return from a call centre but then pick up a fine or penalty – spending £10 to go through the file could save £100 or more.

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9:42 AM, 8th August 2011, About 13 years ago

I would add to the list
"a. Ask the tax inspector to send you a letter stating what you have agreed (tell the inspector what you want in the letter).
b. File the response."
This is my policy.

Alternatively, in point 4 ask them to write to you confirming agreement or identifying any disagreement.

The tax office can claim not to have any record of a telephone call or a letter you sent, but cannot argue with your copy from them.

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