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HMRC internal manual

International Manual

Exchange of information: Notifications to taxpayers on behalf of other EU Member States

Under the EC Mutual Assistance Directive, as amended in 2004, Member States are obliged, on receipt of a request from another Member State, to deliver certain documents on behalf of that other State to any person residing within their jurisdiction. These are documents originating from the other State relating to a tax liability of the taxpayer in that other State, so may include, for example, copies of foreign tax assessments, rulings or other determinations made by the overseas tax authority, or legal instruments and decisions. In some Member States, evidence that the taxpayer has been notified of his liability to tax must be produced before a debt can be proved or recovery action commenced.

The Directive requires only that a Member State who receives such a notification request use the same method to notify the taxpayer as its domestic law allows in relation to similar documents originating in its own State.

Requests for assistance from overseas tax authorities of this nature are normally dealt with by the Centre for Exchange of Intelligence (CEI) but occasionally local offices may be requested to effect the notification or provide assistance to the CEI (e.g. by checking an address). In such cases guidance will be given by the CEI and action should be taken immediately, as UK law requires HM Revenue & Customs to confirm as soon as reasonably practical the date on which the notification was made to the requesting State.

The obligation is reciprocal, so HMRC can also ask the tax authorities in another EU Member State to serve documents on a taxpayer resident in that other State on HMRC’s behalf in relation to a UK tax liability. CEI should be contacted for advice if there is a case where it is necessary to make use of this facility.