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Penalty suspension

Penalty suspension

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Let us assume, for the sake of this question, that my client is liable to a penalty for carelessness in his tax return with an undisclosed error, so 15% penalty being charged.

The letter charging the penalty refers to completely different facts to that of my client and gives no explanation as to why the penalty can't be suspended.  Clearly, they have taken someone else's letter and amended it for my client but forgotten to change the bit where it comes to suspension of the penalty.  Even then, the sentence stops abruptly part way through with no full stop, so something has been deleted but not all.

Now without wishing to rub HMRC up the wrong way, this DOES look much more like a careless error than that which my client made in omitting the income from his tax return in the first place (that was an honest mistake, but let's not go there for now).

As they have used the wrong facts in the letter, what would you do next?  Apart from making HMRC look stupid, does it have any other implications?

And in any case, it is not clear why the penalty can't be suspended (I am putting together a proposal to help with the accuracy of future returns as we speak), but we are again in the realms of a "one off" situation which HMRC like to imagine means a penalty can't be suspended as the same scenario would not happen again.


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By taxguru
28th Jul 2014 12:07

If the facts don't match then HMRC must have goofed it up! Throw it back at them.

As regards penalty suspension the following works with HMRC:

1. Engaging a qualified accountant specifically ACCA/ACA (note HMRC didn't appeal against those FTT decisions)

2. Set SMART conditions so such inaccuracies are avoided.

Our standard procedure which HMRC have agreed in all cases so far is as follows:

1. Appoint us as the accountants (!!)

2. Issue a comprehensive checklist to the client - so nothing is missed out (income, foreign income, gains, and even the child tax credit.....)

3. Where relevant ask for the client's bank statements - match income with all the receipts

4. Issue a certificate that to the best of our knowledge and belief .....






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28th Jul 2014 12:11

Penalty Suspension

On the suspension point, HMRC will not suspend a penalty for a one-off transaction which will not be repeated.

But, do reply regarding the mitigation issue, and correct the facts. If they do not reduce the penalty rate, then consider an Internal Review. Beyond that, Appeal, and ask for them matter to heard 'on paper only,' so that you do not need to attend a Hearing, thus keeping you own costs down.

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