Member Since: 17th Mar 2009
26th Jan 2011
Is this an enquiry/investigation?
Is the £12k debt arising as a result of an enquiry?
You might take a look at the Revenue's own Enquiry Manual, specifically EM6251:
Basically, an instalment offer up to two years can be agreed locally by the Compliance Manager. Anything over two years has to go further up the food chain (EM6402) which involves an awfully long-winded submission to a Senior Manager, again via the local Compliance Manager. Lots of paperwork, lots of senior bods reviewing the Enquiry Officer's work (picking out the flaws, etc...). Very time-consuming.
You may just be dealing with an Enquiry Officer who can't be bothered with all the necessary procedure and paperwork that a longer instalment offer entails.
At the end of the day, if it's an enquiry, your client is entitled to make an informal offer in whatever terms he/she chooses and it's up to the Revenue to accept or reject. HMRC are asking for £500 a month over 24 months, you have countered with around £333 (interest aside) over 36 months.
Make your offer and insist that if it can't be agreed locally, it should be referred to Head Office for approval or rejection. I would doubt very much that your offer would be rejected given the costs to HMRC of taking alternative action (assuming, of course, that your client can afford the 3-year deal)
(It is also not unheard of for local managers to agree 3-year instalment deals just to save their officers time, so you might also consider asking to speak to the local Compliance Manager)
If not as a result of an enquiry, you may still wish to consider how the instructions at EM6251 and EM6204 can be adapted to be of use to your client, arguing consistency of treatment.
Best of luck!
17th Mar 2009
As an ex-Inspector...
As an ex-Inspector, I would direct Anon to HMRC's guidance to its' Enquiry Officers at EM2255 (Information Powers), EM1813 (Avoiding HMRC delay) and EM1984 (Closure Applications following delay by the Enquiry Officer).
Anon's client should consider making an immediate application for closure of the enquiry on the grounds that the requested information has been made available to HMRC for a considerable period, and that they have failed to act on this information.
The fact that an Enquiry Officer can't be bothered to go and pick up/examine the records suggests that there may well not be any significant risks in the case.
The period that has passed since the records were made available to HMRC could be seen to constitute unreasonable delay on their part and I would expect that most Compliance Managers, or more importantly, Appeals Unit Officers, would be unwilling to take such a poorly-managed case before a Commissioners' hearing to defend a closure application (unless there is something juicy that caused them to open it in the first place).
At the very least, such an application will highlight the unreasonable delays in the case (the Compliance Manager may not even be aware) and such delays will make it difficult for HMRC to pursue penalties should the closure application fail and the enquiry continues.
Time for Anon's client to take the reins and force the pace!