Tax

HMRC Powers and Safeguards Review – evidence needed

Have your clients been affected by HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) use of the new powers it has accumulated over recent years? This is an opportunity to ask your clients for feedback on their experiences of specific HMRC powers.

If you have clients who have relevant experience of HMRC’s use of powers and who may be willing to provide feedback, please ask them to complete the questionnaire provided below, and return this to us by 8 February.

Background

HMRC has been asked to evaluate the implementation of its powers and safeguards introduced since 2012.

The financial secretary to the Treasury announced this evaluation in a Written Ministerial Statement of 22 July 2019. That announcement was made in response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report The Powers of HMRC: Treating Taxpayers Fairly of 4 December 2018.

The Law Society is a member of a forum set up to provide expert input to HMRC on this evaluation, the HMRC Powers and Customer Safeguards Implementation Evaluation Forum. HMRC proposed that the forum should:

  • identify the powers to be reviewed
  • agree a questionnaire to be used to obtain evidence
  • arrange for evidence to be obtained from HMRC officers and from taxpayers

The forum will receive and review the evidence and HMRC will prepare a report.

The first two items have been completed. The powers that are being reviewed are those most commonly encountered, rather than just the most recently adopted powers, for which there is little experience.

Download the list of powers (PDF, 340 KB)

Update: HMRC made some final updates to the list of powers on 4 February. The link above is now to that updated version. If possible, please use this new version of the powers list to respond. The list explains the differences between this new version and the previous version.

The list is colour coded. The powers coloured green and orange are in focus, and the greatest scrutiny will be given to those in green.

A questionnaire has been agreed and a copy of the questionnaire addressed to taxpayers is available below. HMRC hopes that taxpayers can complete the questionnaire for each power that they have experience of.

Where two or more powers are used in a single episode, such as a request for information and the imposition of a penalty for failure to comply, those two powers can be covered within a single reply.

Download the questionnaire (Word 38 KB)

Update: HMRC made some final updates to the questionnaire on 31 January. The link above is now to that updated version. If possible, please use this new version of the questionnaire to respond. For convenience, we have prepared an unofficial comparison between the previous version and the updated version. Download the comparison (Word 53 KB).

Deadline for responses

The timetable for gathering of evidence is very tight, because the committee’s work was put on hold during the election period. We appreciate that this is a busy time of year for many taxpayers, including commercial companies that are closing accounts, but for some this may be an opportunity to provide evidence for this evaluation and its report.

Please ask your clients to send us their completed questionnaires, or return the questionnaires on their behalf, by 8 February 2020.

Send any evidence gathered to James Reynolds (Law Society Tax Policy Adviser) at james.reynolds@lawsociety.org.uk.