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I have two cases at the moment where HMR&C clearly did not use information to correctly code two clients which resulted in underpayments arising.  I have written to HMR&C twice now setting out the cases for discharging the underpayments and in both cases I keep getting the same standard response.

Has anyone had any successes with ESC A19 and can provide any further advice?

Many thanks


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24th Apr 2012 10:10


Success for 2 clients.  Lots of success - under chrismac1 ID, also see posts from Pennywise - as an advisor on "Cutting Tax" forum.

In fact the only reason I stick around there at all is the dodgy advice some of the HMRC "stooges" on the site give people, especially Esc A19 people.

First of all you have to be clear on the esc A19 timelines which are especially generous to HMRC.  If it's recent tax years then forget it.

Next you'll find HMRC just knock out standard replies without bothering to read your letters.  You are at that stage.

Keep going until you get a reply with details specific to your clients which at least shows someone has bothered to read the letters.  This can take 3 or 4 letters.

Their standard response at that stage is to blame the employer, your client, the dog, Uncle Tom Cobbley....This is where good detective work comes in handy.

For example, suppose they wrote to your client in March 2012 chasing up tax for 2007-2008.  Keep asking questions, what happened in March 2012 to trigger the assessment?  Did they suddenly get new information?  Or, more likely, did they suddenly wake up and use information they've had for nearly 4 years?

Whether all this effort is worth it depends on the tax involved.  Personally I have also been compensated in one case for extra fees arising from letters I've had to write which would never have been written if they'd behaved professionally from the off, instead of just standard "fob off" stuff.

It's also worth - before even starting - double checking that these are tax assessments and not mere calculations.  I had two clients who were sent calculations totalling £4k in one case and £2k in another.  I prepared Esc A19 defences but advised both clients we would do nothing until formal assessments came in, or PAYE coding changes.

This was in the spring and summer of 2010.  We are still waiting.......Result!!

Thanks (1)
By Jimess
24th Apr 2012 11:01

I can only reiterate what Mr Mischief has said...

I can only reiterate what has already been said, you have to check everything, ask questions and doggedly bounce back the bog standard responses, ask for referrals to higher grade officers rather than the processing staff that tend to just blurt out standard phrases.  Yes we have had a few successes.  Is it worth it? - that depends on the amount of tax at stake and your clients take on the situation.  My view - if the full facts demonstrate HMRC incompetence or error that has disadvantaged the client then it is worth a few hours of my time writing to HMRC.  I always advise the client that the outcome is uncertain so that their expectations are managed and they can weigh that risk against our fees quote so they know from the outset what it will cost them to raise the ESC A19 defences.  So far we have had three successes - £2k, £1,800 and £3,400 so yes it was worth the effort for those clients. 

Thanks (1)
24th Apr 2012 12:12


Many thanks.  Sometimes you feel as if you are bashing your head against a brick wall!

Thanks (0)
24th Apr 2012 13:20


Hi there,

I've done one of these in the past and found that the easiest way to get it through was to keep hassling on the Agent Line. At the time I was informed that it was with an inspector for review. I requested a call back from him.

I received a call from one of his team which proved very helpful. I was given a contact number to call back on etc.

Within 2-3 weeks it was settled - much quicker than posting chasers!


Good luck.


Thanks (1)
24th Apr 2012 13:21


From memory I think it is one team that deals with them.. so I expect (and hope) you will get through to the same department - it was based Wales. I don't have the number I'm afraid.



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