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The importance of knowing your rights

When faced with a tax enquiry many people place their trust in HMRC, believing that the tax officials will act within their powers. However, a recent tax case involving a medical practitioner highlights the importance of knowing your rights and of standing up to HMRC when they stray outside their remit.

Dr Long worked as a locum and in private practice. HMRC opened an enquiry into Dr Long's tax return and in responding to HMRC's queries Dr Long realised that she had omitted to include some cash income from private patients in her return.

She made HMRC aware of this ASAP. HMRC then requested additional information from Dr Long including her business  appointments diaries. Dr Long refused to provide these on the basis that they included confidential information. HMRC issued a formal information notice under which Dr Long would be liable to penalties if she did not provide the information. Dr Long appealed against the notice to the tax Tribunal.

The tax Tribunal upheld Dr Long's appeal finding that, as the diaries did not contain any financial information, and as they did not provide an accurate record of patients seen, etc, they were not reasonably required to check her return.

The rules on enquiries contain a number of important safeguards for taxpayers, not least that HMRC many only insist on the provision of information that is "reasonably required." If you have discovered an error in your tax return and need to inform HMRC, or if HMRC have opened an enquiry into your tax affairs, BW Medical Accountants can help you get the best result for you.

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