HMRC has issued a further batch of so-called nudge letters, however this time inviting wealthy taxpayers to call them ahead of submitting their 2021/22 self-assessment tax returns. HMRC believe that a pre-filing conversation could help prevent errors before they occur. Although in our opinion this voluntary conversation could lead to unnecessary risks for the unwary or unrepresented.
As part of this current initiative HMRC is asking a number of wealthy taxpayers, which HMRC defines as anyone with income over £200,000 or has assets over £2m, to have a voluntary telephone call with a tax inspector from their wealthy unit.
HMRC have stated that the calls will help both parties by ensuring the correct amount of tax is paid, any unusual or one-off transactions can be discussed and clarification can be sort on any uncertain tax matters.
For individuals with complex tax affairs, we don’t believe it would be advantageous to discuss their tax affairs with HMRC without the full knowledge and support of an experienced tax adviser. This advice is also supported by the leading tax and accountancy bodies, who have indicated that the new scheme should be approached with a certain amount of caution.
Although the initiative may be well intentioned, those taxpayers engaging directly with HMRC could risk making an inaccurate or unnecessary disclosure to HMRC, including the possibility of starting an unwanted tax enquiry.
The call for a pre-filing conversation is targeted at high earners (often with complex tax affairs) regardless of whether the taxpayer has a tax adviser or customer compliance manager at HMRC. It’s worrying that HMRC have also stated that having such a ‘chat’ could mean no guarantee that it will not enquire into the tax return after it’s subsequently filed.
Although co-operating with HMRC can have its advantages, we strongly recommend that a suitably experienced tax adviser should have a pre-discussion with them to agree the scope, topics and issues to be covered.
The tax adviser should also clarify and understand exactly who from HMRC will be present on the call. HMRC often invite colleagues from their specialist fraud investigation unit to sit in on meetings and telephone calls, sometimes without fully disclosing the department that they are actually from.
At Lubbock Fine we can support you with all types of enquiries raised by HMRC. If you receive a letter from HMRC suggesting a call to discuss your affairs, please contact our Tax Risks and Investigations Director Graham Caddock (email@example.com), or your usual Lubbock Fine contact for a confidential discussion today.