‘Threatening letters’ sent to company directors

HM Revenue & Customs has been accused of sending letters written in a
‘threatening tone’ to company directors in Nottingham who have to fill in
personal tax returns.

Karen Francis, tax partner with mid-tier firm PKF, claimed the threatening
tone of the letters suggested directors might be lying about how much they owe,
the Nottingham Evening Post reported.

The letters include the following: ‘Company directors commonly make errors in
claims for business expenses as they include personal expenses. Examples that we
often find incorrectly claimed are: entertaining, clothing, food and drink,
household running costs.’

They go on to say: ‘If we do not hear from you within 30 days we will make an
assessment to collect the amount that we believe is due… we will then send you
a revised self-assessment statement with details of how to make a payment.”

Francis described the tone of the letters as ‘at best, intimidating’.

‘If you have taken professional advice before signing your return as complete
and correct, then by implication you are being accused of lying,’ she added.

An HMRC spokesman rejected the claims: ‘We are conducting a number of
exercises at the moment, all designed to help customers fulfil their

‘The enabling letter exercise has been going on for years and reaction has

been positive. Customer feedback has been essential in helping us get the
balance right in helping the customer make sure they claim all their
correct allowances and educating them as to their legal responsibilities.

‘The overwhelming majority of our customers fulfil their full legal
obligations, we have a duty to ensure that where there is a compliance risk

that we take all reasonable steps to educate customers as to their
responsibilities. Customers historically welcome this type of proactive

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