During the course of a tax investigation, a lot of information and documentation may be requested from the taxpayer in order that the Inspector obtains a better understanding. Often this part of the process can be put into better context if a meeting is held with HMRC.
Does a taxpayer have to attend a meeting with HMRC?
Should a taxpayer attend a meeting with HMRC?
It depends, possibly yes.
Although a taxpayer does not have to attend a meeting with HMRC, it should be borne in mind throughout the tax investigation process that penalties may be applied. Penalties are based on the taxpayer’s cooperation and not attending such a meeting may be seen as a sign of non cooperation.
A taxpayer should be well prepared for such a meeting and should not attend a meeting alone. Often there will be at least 2 Inspectors at the meeting and the taxpayer should not feel outnumbered or under pressure simply for not being accompanied.
There may be occasions when the advice is for a taxpayer not to attend a meeting. That could be due to various reasons including ill health or being unavailable for whatever reason. If that is the advice, it does not mean that the agent should not attend. A lot can be gained from the questions being asked – even if no answers are given.
Will a Note of the Meeting be taken?
HMRC will state that a Note of Meeting will be taken (by them) and sent to all attendees for their agreement and signature. HMRC will also state that the Notes will not be verbatim but nevertheless should still be an accurate record of what was said.
A taxpayer (and their agent) can take their own notes. It is certainly recommended that the Notes of Meeting prepared by HMRC are reviewed and any comments passed back to HMRC.
Should a taxpayer sign a Note of Meeting?
In my opinion, no they should not be signed. There is no legal requirement for them to be signed.
That said, as the Note of Meeting will form part of the taxpayer’s file they should be reviewed and any comments on them passed back to HMRC.
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