Issue 2 - Enquiries and Investigations

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TaxZone Newthwire
Issue 2 - 27 May 2002
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Comments

From the Practitioner's viewpoint.... (Part 2 - Meetings).

John Savage | | Permalink

It must always be remembered that the Revenue have no legal power to insist on a meeting. If any meeting should happen, it is with the permission and agreement of the client. I have a case in hand at the moment whereby my client, on my advice, is not willing to attend a meeting as he is too busy running his business, and I have therefore requested, in order to co-operate with the enquiry, that the Revenue officer channel any questions he may have to me in writing, and I will then supply the answer (provided I am satisfied that the officer is legally entitled to the information) in writing. That also has the benefit that, as everything is in writing, there can be no misunderstandings by the officer. This policy is not to say that there will be no meeting under any circumstances, merely that, if any meeting be felt necessary, it will be if, when and because both my client and I deem it necessary.

Finally, TMA1970 S19A(2a) only requires the taxpayer to "produce to the officer such documents as are in the taxpayer's possession or power and as the officer may reasonably require for the purpose of determining whether and, if so, the extent to which the return is incorrect or incomplete". Accordingly there is no obligation to part with a taxpayer's records so that the officer can examine them in the comfort the Revenue offices. Provided that the records are "produced" for examination, even if it is in the practitioner's office, then the legal obligation is being discharged. As regards what records the officer is entitled to have produced, that is a further matter........!!!

From the Practitioner's viewpoint.... (Part 1 - Notes).

John Savage | | Permalink

John raises some very salient points in this article regarding meetings, notes etc. and I concur with both his and Robert's views. Many years ago (more than I care to remember!) I worked for Customs & Excise in VAT investigation, and the policies in my own practice have been fashioned as a result of that experience.

Contemporaneous note taking by the practitioner is, in my opinion, essential during any 'enquiry' meeting with the Revenue, and it is my policy to always write them - even though it is a tedious job!. My reasons are that the practitioner's note-taking should focus the officer's mind on the fact that the officer must get his notes correct, and not just issue 'the meeting went something like this' notes several weeks later. Secondly, and as any practitioner will, I am sure, agree, contemporaneous notes can be absolutely crucial during an appeal hearing. The practitioner's own set of verbatim notes (or as verbatim as possible) could be of far greater importance during any appeal than the Revenue's, particularly if it can be demonstrated that the Revenue notes have been written up some time after the event.

In addition, as the Revenue officer will usually like to be in control of any interview, it should do no harm for the practitioner to slow the interview down in order to enable time for him/her to scribble down his/her notes of what is being said, although obviously there must be a sense of reasonableness regarding any pauses requested.

My own policy is for the client to never sign any Revenue notes, and I always insist on being supplied a copy of them once they have been completed. That can give also give an indication of when the full notes were written up following the meeting.