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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

Supporting Guidance: employer compliance: guidance by subject: penalties: abatement for cooperation

The abatement should reflect the extent to which the employer co-operates with the compliance check to bring it to a speedy conclusion.

Thus the starting point is the time taken to reach a conclusion and how the employer influenced that. You should bear in mind that complex cases will inevitably take longer. In these compliance checks the time taken is often influenced by both the employer and the caseworker.

Consideration should be given to the following features.

  • Making early appointments and keeping them.
  • Supply of records and information.
  • Truthfulness and accuracy of answers to questions with all the relevant facts brought to light.
  • Necessity for formal action including First-tier Tribunal hearings to force progress.

If any employer has a genuine disagreement, for example in a status dispute, this is not a lack of cooperation. Neither is an appeal for assistance from a third party, including the local MP.

But where you can show a deliberate policy of obstruction, accompanied by clear evidence of attempts to mislead the third party, as well as HMRC, that is plainly lack of cooperation.

Any delay or lack of cooperation by an agent is deemed to be the employers own. If you believe

  • a case is delayed due to an agent (or the agent claims the client is tardy)

you should

  • write direct to the employer (with a copy to the agent)
  • give a reminder of the terms of factsheet CC/FS19, COG906060 
  • request quicker and more effective cooperation.

If a complaint ensues, the reply should be that we are bound, in fairness, to remind employers of the consequence of delay. The delay could affect any penalty which may be sought.

See also COG914115 - things to consider under cooperation.