Recently a case was submitted to the courts appealing a penalty charged levied on a company for late VAT registration. The complainant had little chance of winning but what is particularly interesting is the judge’s comments when sentencing. He accused the appointed accountant of being ‘out of touch’ and that ‘the world of tax had passed him by’. This was, primarily, in reference to the accountant’s recent return to work to take on a limited number of jobs having previously been retired. Whilst for them it may have been a painful reminder that the world of tax can move quickly, there’s a lesson that we can all learn. Here are our tips on how to deal with HMRC: Be Calm Where money and penalties are concerned, tempers are always likely to be fraught. But it pays to stay calm, even if it means biting your lip on occasion. In cases that progress to the courtroom, as in the aforementioned example, your attitude throughout can be called in to question. It might pain you to do so, but being calm could pay dividends in the long run. Standardisation HMRC only use standard letter formats to issue you with notifications or warnings. Whilst it might be preferable to individuals to have a personalised letter, signed the specific officer responsible for your case, complete with phone number and email address, it’s not going to happen. The best thing to do is to follow the instructions on the letter. Depending on your position, a different course of action is likely to be required but consider first the best way to progress your case. Keep A Record Whilst HMRC is likely to keep a digital record of your interactions it is certainly worth keeping your own detailed log of calls, interactions and expected outcomes. Officers will be dealing with a number of companies and the details around your case could easily be forgotten. If you’re able to provide reliable evidence, then HMRC may take them in to account and be more lenient in the future. Refer to the Manual HMRC provide tax manuals, which are the preferred source for information on the subject and provide more depth than public notices. If you’re having a technical dispute then try to use these manuals to provide evidence to support your case. It’ll be looked on much more favourably and is likely to bring about a positive result. Don’t get Personal The temptation to plead your case personally could get the better of you but it’s advisable to steer clear of that. Telling HMRC that you’ve ‘always paid your taxes on time’ or that you’re a ‘law abiding citizen’ won’t curry favour: most people fall in to this category. The truth is, it’s all about the numbers. The tax-man is one of two certainties in life but it doesn’t mean he can’t be negotiated with, provided you’re willing to be upfront about it. Refer to the Pros Of course, if you’re struggling to see your case through then there are professionals that are used to dealing with HMRC on a regular basis, ready to get the best deal possible for you. You can find out more here.