Working the Enquiry: Meetings: Overcoming Objections to Attending Meetings
You can reduce or overcome resistance to a meeting by
- explaining that meetings can actually reduce the costs and length of an enquiry, because so much more can be covered at a meeting than in protracted correspondence
- saying why you want to meet the taxpayer. You should make it clear that
* you are entitled to enquire into the taxpayer’s return, * the information you need can only be given by the taxpayer in person, and * in the absence of co-operation, you will not give up
- asking if the agent has passed on your views about the desirability of a meeting to the taxpayer
confirming to the agent that he or she will be provided with a copy of your notes following the meeting. The agent and taxpayer will be able to correct any misunderstanding of what was said and will be able to revise any explanations or information given at the time if, on reflection, these are felt to be inaccurate If this happens, you will have to consider whether what was said at the meeting was correct. Was it the sort of detail a trader would need to know at all times in order to run the business? Is there any documentary or third party evidence to back up some, or all, of what was said at the meeting or the revised explanation or information now offered?
- stating there may come a point at which further progress by correspondence seems difficult or impossible without a meeting. When this point arrives, you will have to close your enquiry with amendments or assessments as appropriate. The taxpayer can appeal against the amendments or assessments and ask for a review or notify their appeal to the tribunal. At a tribunal hearing the taxpayer may need to give evidence to support the returns and accounts submitted and can then be questioned as part of your cross examination.
But ultimately you do not have a power to compel a taxpayer or accountant to attend a meeting.