HMRC sensitive to Covid-19 difficulties but business as usual with tax

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are still amenable to working with taxpayers who are experiencing Covid-19 related difficulties to iron out workable solutions.

However, it is business as usual to collect taxes and investigate potential cases of tax fraud, the authority has said.

An article last week by accountancy, tax and advisory practice Blick Rothenburg said that “the recent pause in HMRC’s routine enquiry work is over… a representative of HMRC… confirmed that the temporary pause in enquiries was being lifted this week”. 

Responding to an enquiry from Recruiter, an HMRC spokesperson said: “While it would not be appropriate to publish a detailed running commentary about our operational response during the pandemic, it is right that HMRC does everything possible to protect individuals, businesses and the economy during this difficult time. This includes offering tax deferrals and VAT reductions.

“We are prioritising work to support our customers, while tackling serious fraud, criminal attacks, and those who promote tax avoidance. We will continue to work with customers if they want to settle their tax disputes with HMRC.

“We will continue to respond to taxpayers’ individual circumstances, giving people more time to respond where appropriate.”

It is understood that HMRC never paused or failed to take up new cases of either Code of Practice 8 (COP8) investigations – ie. those that involve significant amounts of tax or complex technical arguments – or enquiries into Code of Practice 9 (COP9), meaning those where there is a suspicion of serious tax fraud. However, adjustments to processes were apparently made to accommodate Covid-19 circumstances, including social distancing.

Also, it is understood that as part of HMRC’s response to the Loan Charge Review, the authority is continuing to support customers who are still in time to settle their disguised remuneration avoidance schemes so that they do not have to pay the Loan Charge.

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