Working the Enquiry: Closure Applications: All Information Received Examined
At whatever stage of the enquiry you receive information, you will have to decide
- if you need further information before you can be sure that the return is correct and complete
- if there is sufficient information for you to form a conclusion about the accuracy of a matter or the whole return.
The conclusion you reach will determine your approach to a closure application.
Insufficient information to reach a conclusion
If you consider that you need further information (or a meeting) before you can be sure that the return is correct and complete, you should, wherever possible, ask the taxpayer to produce it (or attend a meeting) before the tribunal’s hearing. You should also, if necessary, explain why you consider it is relevant for the purpose of checking the taxpayer’s return.
It is quite likely that the taxpayer will refuse your request because they still feel that you have no grounds for continuing your enquiry. But it is possible that the taxpayer or agent will accept that you continue your enquiry when they understand what information you now need. At the hearing you should seek to show why a direction would not be appropriate by explaining what further information you need and why you need it.
You have sufficient information to reach a conclusion about the accuracy of the matter or the whole return
In a full enquiry, this is likely to be rare in the early stages of an enquiry but it will be increasingly likely as the enquiry progresses.
There will be some cases where there is nothing in the records you have examined to indicate any errors or omissions in the return. In such cases you should issue a final closure notice to the taxpayer. This may avoid the need for the application to be heard by the tribunal.
Similarly, it will sometimes be possible to form a firm view of the nature and extent of any errors or omissions on the basis of your record examination. If you consider that you do not need to make any further enquiries in order to reach a conclusion on the amount which should be included in the self assessment, you should issue a final closure notice. This may avoid an unnecessary hearing by the tribunal.
In all cases you should first consider whether Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) may help you and the taxpayer resolve any disputes. See the ADR web pages for guidance about ADR.
Guidance on the conduct of tribunal hearings can be found at ARTG8000+.
Guidance on the consequences of the tribunal’s decision is at EM1990.