Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Best not to be abusive

This is a true story about a tax dispute that went on for two years before the underlying issue was clarified. It made me smile.

An Inspector of Taxes was explaining to me that the owner of the small business had been refusing to co-operate. As a result a relatively straightforward tax dispute about a tax scheme was heading towards the first tier tax tribunal.

It was when the case was reviewed and a new Inspector contacted the taxpayer that the REAL issue became apparent. The taxpayer had misread a letter from HMRC which referred to his involvement in an abusive tax arrangement. The taxpayer thought that HE personally was being accused of ABUSE and he resented this. In the event a simple apology from HMRC for the misunderstanding enabled negotiations to commence properly and the dispute was later resolved without the need for a formal hearing.

I didn't find out whether it really was the taxpayer who had misunderstood or if the original letter from HMRC was poorly worded. Who knows?!

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