Preparing a response to an HMRC information request

By Tolley

The following Corporation Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Preparing a response to an HMRC information request
  • Dealing with a request to check a return
  • Complying with the request

Dealing with a request to check a return

There are several practical pointers that are useful for an adviser to consider when responding to a request from HMRC to check a return. The HMRC opening letter is discussed in the Opening letter to a compliance check guidance note.

As with most requests for advice, the first point that an adviser should consider is whether the engagement letter in place adequately covers the work required or whether a separate engagement is required. Payment terms should also be considered at this point. For example, some advisers may prefer to ask for a payment up front, before they begin handling an enquiry. It will be unclear at the start of the enquiry how many rounds of correspondence will be entered into and how long the engagement will continue. Consequently, it is usually appropriate to agree a fee for each separate letter. Some clients may also have tax investigations fees insurance, and the policy should be consulted at the outset to verify the level of cover.

The adviser should also set up a separate file for the purpose of the check to keep records of correspondence with HMRC and the client and copies of information or documents sent to HMRC.

It is advisable to keep contemporaneous file notes of any conversations with HMRC and also to respond to HMRC’s requests in writing. HMRC will make its own notes of each conversation which will likely be used to emphasise HMRC points. It is therefore important for the adviser to keep their own file notes.

A tidy and indexed set of file papers should also speed up the process and ensure the adviser can refer to information easily. In the event that the check escalated to a Tribunal hearing, a tidy and complete file would assist with preparation, particularly if this takes place several months or

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