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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: resolving issues and disputes: lack of cooperation

You might be faced with a person or an agent who does not want to work collaboratively with you. This can happen for a number of reasons, for example it may be that the person or their agent

  • is trying to hide the facts from you
  • does not fully appreciate the potential benefits of a collaborative approach
  • has a fixed view of HMRC’s approach to compliance checks and is suspicious of the motives behind collaborative engagement
  • believes that ‘he who alleges must prove’ and sees a tactical advantage in maintaining their right not to cooperate with HMRC.

If this happens then you should try to engage the person in a collaborative approach by explaining the benefits.

In the majority of cases the person will see that it is in their interests to resolve the dispute. However, in some cases you will need to use your legal powers in order to make progress.

You should always be prepared to use information powers to get the evidence you need and make any necessary protective assessments or determinations. Make sure that you explain to the person

  • why you have taken this action
  • how you have reached the amounts you propose to assess
  • their rights of review and appeal.

Telling the person that you intend to issue formal tax/duty and penalty assessments may encourage them to begin or resume discussions which will hopefully lead to resolving any dispute, see CH281000 for detailed guidance when taking formal action.