Working the Enquiry: Closure Applications: Following Delay by the Enquiry Officer
If the taxpayer has produced all the information/records you requested (or required by an information notice) he or she will naturally expect to receive a substantive response from HMRC within a reasonable time scale.
If there is delay on the part of HMRC, the taxpayer may seek to force a response by making a closure application.
Some agents may even adopt a policy of allowing a fixed period (perhaps one month) to elapse after the submission of records before routinely making a closure application.
It is therefore more important than ever that you should
- avoid any unreasonable delay and
- deal with the information/records the taxpayer has supplied timorously.
What constitutes unreasonable delay will depend on the volume and complexity of the information submitted. You will normally, for example, be able to deal more quickly with, say, a capital allowances computation than you will with a full set of books and records.
- normally be able to complete your examination of the information submitted before the application is heard by the tribunal, and
- be able to contest the application, or
- close the enquiry based on your conclusions.
(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
If you cannot examine the information before the hearing then the tribunal is obviously more likely to give a direction in favour of the taxpayer.
Despite this you might still have time to examine the information between
- the hearing, and
- the date specified by which the closure notice must be issued.
Dependent on whether you can examine the information/records in the timescale allowed you will either
- be able to close the enquiry based on your conclusions, or
- have to let the self assessment stand (having wasted the opportunity of establishing whether the return is correct and complete)
Note: On any occasion when the tribunal gives a direction you should follow the guidance at EM1990.