When can an HMRC Discovery Assessment be opened?

We get many questions on whether HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can use Section 29 TMA 1970 (Discovery) to open an enquiry when apparently they are already out of time.

An HMRC Discovery Assessment can be opened when HMRC believe they have received additional information that wasn’t available previously when the tax return was submitted.

We have seen a few recent cases where HMRC were opening a Discovery Assessment where the client had failed to submit a P60 declaring their employment income and tax deducted (from a previous employer) from a few years ago.

We have argued that when the employer submitted their Real Time Information, they would have declared the pay to the ex-employee so HMRC had the information within a few months of the tax year ending. HMRC hadn’t “discovered” the P60 information, it had been sent to HMRC at the correct time and had been held by HMRC for a number of years. Therefore, HMRC were out of time to raise a Section 9A enquiry and Section 29 didn’t apply.

HMRC won’t budge

HMRC have responded that the information wasn’t with the tax return when it was submitted, therefore the information was discovered which does appear to be incorrect but HMRC won’t budge from this decision.

As many practices are starting to receive client information for the current tax returns, a simple check of employment income or an additional question on the client documentation may save a lot of time and effort and stress on the client.

Ray McMahan, Vantage Fee Protect Claims Consultant

September 2017

Further information is in our resources section

or for tax fee protection

Having changed over to Vantage a couple of years ago we have been very satisfied with the service. Especially the claims handling and technical advice lines for both our firm and insured clients on employment and business legal matters. The webshop Vantage offer allows our clients to join and pay electronically. This positively impacts our bottom line and makes things simple and efficient for our clients.

Linda Giles Chartered Accountant

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