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Dealing with HMRC: five top tips

Posted on 21 March 2016

Dealing with HMRC: five top tips

HMRC receives over 70 million calls a year concerning tax queries.  Dealing with HMRC can therefore be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

Here are 5 top tips on how best to deal with HMRC:  

  1. Identification

When contacting HMRC, speaking with the appropriate person (or even sub-team) is crucial. It is unlikely that the general switchboard will be able to offer the specialist advice needed; the tax code is over 21,000 pages and nobody is an expert on all areas!   

Outline your query clearly and specify whether it is a business or personal matter and the type of tax it relates to. This should help you (and HMRC) identify the correct person/sub-team to speak to.

  1. Documentation

Take a leaf out of the lawyer's handbook and make full and comprehensive records of all correspondence with HMRC, regardless of the format.

In addition to letters and emails, note the date, time and recipient's name in respect of any telephone calls and follow these up with letters or emails outlining what was discussed and the individuals involved.

This may prove invaluable if the query takes longer than anticipated to be resolved. It could also form essential evidence if the dispute develops into substantive proceedings.

  1. Persistence

As a government organ with a history of inefficiency, it is important to persevere with HMRC. Be proactive at the outset and keep in regular contact with representatives so that they are aware of your query and can prioritise it.

Make sure to follow up and, if no action is being taken, chase the relevant people.

  1. Patience

Notwithstanding the above, once HMRC are aware of your query and you are confident that it is being addressed, be patient with the time it takes for your dispute to be processed.

  1. Know when to ask an expert!

If, after receiving a response from HMRC, you are still dissatisfied with the results, it could be time to seek professional advice. This is particularly true for high value matters or where the taxation position is complex, historic or both.

If you find yourself in a similar position, the Tax Dispute Resolution team will be happy to help.  For more information, please contact Waqar Shah.

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