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Chartering Tax Waters

Your taxpayer charter – use it

The Taxpayers Charter sets out your rights as a taxpayer and you should never be afraid to use it against HMRC, when the need arises. For example, where a Status Inspector attempts to ride roughshod over a contractor during an IR35 investigation. The charter is part of a freelancer’s weaponry.

In return for being honest, diligent and respecting the Revenue’s staff, HMRC promise nine things:

(1)  To respect you by:

  • being courteous and considerate
  • listening to your concerns
  • answering your questions in English
  • being sympathetic
  • telling you how to appeal against their decisions

(2)  Help and support you to get things right by:

  • providing information that is helpful
  • processing information given to HMRC as quickly and as accurately as possible
  • correcting mistakes asap

(3)  Treat you as honest by:

  • assuming you are honest and only questioning a taxpayer when HMRC has “good reason” to

(4)  Treat you even-handedly by:

  • basically as (1) above but with the added consideration of any financial difficulties a taxpayer may be having

(5)  Be professional and act with integrity by:

  • acting with integrity
  • making sure you are dealt with by people who have the right level of expertise
  • making decisions in accordance with the law and published guidance and explaining them clearly to you
  • responding to your enquiries and resolving any problems asap
  • keeping you informed of the progress of appeals, investigations or complaints

I would care to suggest that, in an IR35 enquiry, this is the section of the charter that a contractor may have cause to refer to more often than not.

(6)  Tackle people who deliberately break the rules and challenge those who bend the rules:

Guess we are all in agreement with these principles?

(7)  Protect your information and respect your privacy by:

  • explaining to taxpayers why HMRC need information, if challenged
  • restricting access of HMRC staff to information on a need to know basis
  • releasing and sharing information held about you when asked to do so, provided the law permits
  • respecting a taxpayers legal rights when visiting premises

(8)  Accepting that someone else can represent you:

No matter what the issue is, if you prefer a tax adviser to take up the reins then HMRC must respect that.

(9)  Do all we can to keep the cost of dealing with us as low as possible:

Coming in a close second to (5) this may be the other section you will need to quote to HMRC. If you feel an officer is dragging out an enquiry unnecessarily then complain.

The Taxpayers Charter is both a shield and a sword, so make sure you take it into battle with you!

By Andy Vessey

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