Some of you may recognise this as a quote from Benjamin Franklin. In my world it is a very true statement and I take time to explain its importance to others particularly in relation to failing to prepare for meetings with HMRC.
Imagine the scenario of a taxpayer being blasé and ignoring my advice. They may be prosperous, they may be great in business and negotiated great business deals. But they have never met an Inspector of Taxes before. Failing to prepare can be dangerous.
What is so different about a meeting with HMRC?
Nothing particularly. If you fail to prepare for any meeting the outcome can be the same – disaster!
Human nature puts us all in different categories.
Some of us will prefer to research and rehearse almost every question or permutation of outcome possible. At the other end of the spectrum there are those who will simply blag it on the day.
How do you prepare?
Meetings with HMRC tend to occur after protracted correspondence over a long period of time. Failing to prepare starts with not reviewing the correspondence and building on what has already transpired.
Some points may have been won, others lost. Perhaps the vast majority have not been resolved (yet) and are dependant on the outcome of the meeting.
Time to prepare. And rehearse if necessary.
A recent success story
Over the course of a particularly troublesome CDF matter, we had four such meetings. On each occasion my client did prepare as did I. There was no script and occasionally my client got tongue tied but there was no question about integrity or sincerity. There was no issue over the facts once we did our research and marshalled our thoughts. They say “the truth will out” and it did.
A happy ending?
Yes. My client knew in advance the potential liability if all HMRC’s assertions went unchecked. My fees represented a quarter of the amount paid in Settlement. It was a long haul but the outcome was just. It wasn’t a question of being clever once all the relevant facts had been determined.