Taxman failed to communicate litigation strategy effectively

THE REVENUE’S settlement and litigation document was updated because the original 2007 strategy had not been communicated to staff properly, it has said.

HM Revenue & Customs today published a revised strategy to follow the 2007 publication; there is a greater emphasis on collaboration and more detail on how this will be achieved. It suggests that HMRC will “aim early on to articulate the basis of its enquiries” and will seek to clarify and confirm its understanding of the facts with the taxpayer “wherever possible”.

A spokesman for HMRC said there was “not a huge difference in substance” between the 2007 strategy and the revised document. “We were refreshing it because it had not been communicated to the staff”. HMRC felt it needed to be “sharpened up”, he added.

Paul Harrison, tax partner at KPMG, said there was more detail and guidance but agreed there was little substantial change.

The most significant issues to come out of the revised strategy were the retention of HMRC’s commitment to refuse package deals that balance unrelated points of dispute and compromises in all-or-nothing cases.

The main clarification is that staff should explore other approaches before resorting to litigation, he added.

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