Working the Enquiry: Closure Applications: General Approach
FA 98/SCH 18/PARA 33
At any time during the course of an enquiry, the taxpayer may apply to the tribunal for a direction that HMRC should issue a closure notice within a period specified by the tribunal.
There is no guidance in the legislation about the occasions when a closure application might be made. Application is most likely to be made when you
- take some action in relation to the return (for example, write a letter asking questions or request a meeting)
- fail to take any action when the taxpayer expects it (delay).
Taxpayers and agents are perhaps most likely to make a closure application in full enquiries and in the more complex aspect enquiries. But you should be prepared to receive an application in any case which is under enquiry, however minor the point at issue.
You should take the opportunity to review
- the enquiry to date
- whether requests for information are reasonable and justified
- if you can close the enquiry.
Guidance is given when a closure application is received
- following the issue of a formal notice of some sort EM1982
- following verbal or written contact with the taxpayer EM1983
- following apparent delay by the Enquiry Officer EM1984
- after you have had the chance to examine information provided EM1985.
The list is not comprehensive or prescriptive as the taxpayer has the right to make an application at any time during the course of the enquiry.
Where any disputes arise, or you reach an impasse, you should consider whether Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may help you and the taxpayer resolve these before the taxpayer applies to a tribunal for a closure notice. See the ADR web pages for guidance about ADR.
Guidance on the consequences of the tribunal’s decision is contained in EM1990.