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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Working the Enquiry: Meetings: Resistance to Attending Meetings

It is not unusual to meet resistance to attending a meeting from either taxpayer or accountant. Here are some common reasons.

  • Meetings are costly, both in terms of the taxpayer’s lost time and the fees charged by the accountant. For this reason alone you should never ask for a meeting unless it is necessary.
  • The distance between tax office, accountant’s office and business premises will add to the cost of the meeting because of travelling time EM1830.
  • For many people, including those whose returns are complete and correct, a meeting with `officialdom’ is a daunting prospect.
  • Anyone who is understating their income will probably feel less comfortable answering questions face to face, than by correspondence.
  • An accountant may not be happy to bring his or her client to a meeting. Some taxpayers regard their accountant as a shield against HMRC, and attendance at a meeting might be seen as a failure on the agent’s part.
  • The argument is sometimes advanced that traders arrive nervous and unprepared for meetings and provide information `off the top of their heads’, which proves to be wrong, but is still used to show that profits are understated.