As an experienced ex-Tax Inspector with over 27 years of experience working within HMRC, I have been looking to utilise my knowledge and skills built up from over 20 years of working in an enforcement and compliance role.

When HMRC open and work an enquiry, the enquiry officer concerned has to follow various guidelines and procedures laid down. Failure to adhere to these guidelines and procedures can prove fatal to the enquiry itself.

Since joining Francis Clark Tax Consultancy (FCTC) shortly after leaving HMRC, I have seen a few instances where HMRC have taken action by issuing a S9A notice, or notice of assessment, very close to the relevant time limit for doing so.

For enquiries under S9A TMA 1970 HMRC generally have 12 months from the date the original return was filed (this is often overlooked when that return has been amended) and for assessments the time limits are generally governed by reference to the tax year ends.

One crucial factor that gets overlooked is that it isn’t a matter of the notice being issued, but a matter of the taxpayer having receipt of said notice for it to establish a valid enquiry. There are various HMRC instructions to be relied upon to mount a successful challenge.

Generally the HMRC Officer should not issue any notice closer than within 7 working days of any time limit expiring. If any such notice was issued within 7 working days of the time limit expiring, then there is a good chance that FCTC can successfully challenge the validity of that notice.

This is just a very brief overview, the potential for challenge on a notice is far wider depending on other relevant circumstances, even the wording used.

I would encourage everyone who has a client where such actions have been taken close to a deadline or time limit expiring, to consider this closely and see if FCTC can mount a challenge. I’m more than happy to take on any of this type of work.

Contact Dave Wase 01872 276477 or Chris Watts on 01803 320100 for more information.

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