HMRC shuns insolvency practitioners

by Rachael Singh

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22 Oct 2012

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HMRC website

HMRC IS TOO RESOURCE-STRAINED to help insolvency practitioners with all their requests, whether it be tax information for corporate or personal insolvencies.

According to a technical bulletin by insolvency trade body R3, which represents more than 95% of the profession, HM Revenue & Customs said although it wishes to assist practitioners, it will be unable to provide copies of taxpayer forms and correspondence on a routine basis.

Although the taxman is not prevented by law from disclosing information such as VAT and corporate tax returns, providing that data routinely in a large number of cases "imposes a significant resource cost on the public purse which cannot be justified in the current climate", the bulletin said.

HMRC will only provide information on a case-by-case basis if the practitioner can demonstrate why the information is needed and that they are unable to obtain it from other records.

"While we appreciate the current climate makes its own restrictions on the public purse, the balance should not tip away from enabling practitioners to carry out their work. In many cases IPs are working to recover monies owed to HMRC anyway," said R3's chair of the technical committee.

"This information provided by HMRC may also help to identify delinquent directors. When determining whether a director has traded at the expense of the crown, the IP requires an analysis of the HMRC debt.

"We have asked our members to include the appropriate reference number on correspondence to HMRC to save them as much time as possible, and we will be looking to see how this change works in practice."

However, a spokesman for the taxman reiterated: "HMRC remains fully committed to working with insolvency practitioners to ensure that potential insolvency offences can be properly investigated and to maximise creditor recoveries. However, in a time of limited resources we cannot provide information routinely where office holders should be able to obtain it from the insolvent company or bankrupt's own records.

"We will still consider doing so on a case-by-case basis."


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