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Attending interviews

Attending interviews

I've had an Corp Tax enquiry running for some time, as the IR have been very slow in their responses, and they then wrote out of the blue, after a long delay, with dire threats, asking for private bank statements. I wrote a long letter pointing out the various IR guidelines, (most of which they had ignored) that the timing offered was statutorily incorrect (they agree and have had to re-issue) and also indicating that their request for an interview would probably not be met as this did not seem to be appropiate nor would assist in ensuring that the correct tax would be paid.

The officer has written back with several apologies for poor procedures, but then pointing out that failure to attend an interview CAN be seen as a factor in deciding penalties, and cites Page 3 of IR 160 as his reference.

Unless I'm going mad, which is quite possible, I was under the impression that not attending an interview is a legislative right, and how can the IR then state in their literature that "attend interviews" is a factor in deciding a co-operation penalty?

The officer in this case seems poor, there have been sloppily written letters so far and several times has breached IR guidelines, for which I already have apologies, should I vigorously defend this?

Ian Clark

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05th Dec 2005 11:51

This may help......
It is an extract from one of my letters to an inspector on this very point :

" Our own reading of the Code of Practice with regard to meetings being declined is a little different to your own. We have always understood that in "no meeting" cases, it is only in instances where the absence of a meeting mean't that an enquiry took longer to settle than was necessary, that the penalty loading may be affected? In such cases, the Revenue may be required to demonstrate that the enquiry took longer than was necessary."

I think that the principle of declining Revenue interviews is a good one in many cases for various reasons. However, if you have declined an interview, it is good practice to deal with all Enquiry matters speedily whilst projecting a willingness by the client to resolve matters quickly.

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By Anonymous
04th Dec 2005 09:55

yes...
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/emmanual/EM6075.htm

The above link confirms failure to attend a meeting can be a factor in determining penalties but I think this needs to be viewed in context. Have any serious issues arisen which makes this request reasonable? If not then your client has every right to refuse a meeting and, in that context, such a response would be reasonable and there is no reason whay penalties should be affected.

Not aware of any legislative right for non-attendance. Legislation is silent on this point; the client is under no more of an obligation to meet with HMRC than he is for a photocopier salesman.

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By NeilW
04th Dec 2005 10:39

Closure.
The officer in this case seems poor, there have been sloppily written letters so far and several times has breached IR guidelines, for which I already have apologies, should I vigorously defend this?

I would, and I would push for closure. I don't believe incompetence is well received at the Commissioners.

Since they are threatening you with penalties, perhaps you might want to do the same. Point the chap at COP 14 and ask him how his request and approach so far complies with the Service Commitment paragraph on "The company's costs", and why you shouldn't be pressing for compensation under COP 1.

NeilW

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05th Dec 2005 09:42

Reason for non-attendance
Give the Inspector a reason for non-attendance at meeting.

State that it is possible that the enquiry will raise contentious issues that may need to be resolved in front of Commissioners. If this is so, then you need the best possible evidence for your client's interests to present to them. As such, the best evidence you can give is fully considered written responses to written questions, and not spur of the moment replies given in the heat of an enquiry meeting.

Having given such an explanation I would reject any accusation of non-cooperation.

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