HMRC: interventions will be quick and easy

Taxpayers can expect to have their tax affairs sorted out more speedily and
efficiently if they take part in the taxman’s controversial ‘interventions’
trials, but are unlikely to get any other advantages from taking part.

HM Revenue & Customs has given its first indication of the advantages of
taking part in the trials, which have seen the tax authority write to 14,000
taxpayers questioning their tax affairs.

‘In developing new ways of working we want to ensure that we cause as little
inconvenience to the customer and/or their business as possible. Our current
approaches can sometimes be time consuming, whereas customers taking part in
these trials will find that they are completed quickly,’ a spokesman for HMRC
told Accountancy Age.

HMRC played down any prospect that taxpayers might receive lower penalties if
they cooperated in the scheme, which sets up new rules of engagement with
taxpayers outside the statutory enquiry procedure.

‘All individual customer cases are unique and it is not helpful to speculate
on how we would treat individual cases where a voluntary declaration is made.
There are a whole range of factors to be taken into account, level and amount of
error,’ the spokesman said.

‘The important point is that we are to help customers get their affairs
right, we will always work to help them achieve that, coming forward to let us
know about an error will always be viewed by us in a sympathetic light,’ he

The trials of the schemes have provoked discomfort amongst advisers.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation this week called for the process to be
halted, saying that the letters implied taxpayers would have to cooperate rather
than being voluntary, and that there were misleading technical explanations that
might result in people paying too much tax.

Related reading

Life Belt with Computer Folders