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HMRC withholds self-assessment repayments

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In March 2021, the CIOT reported that HMRC was undertaking ‘routine checks’ to ensure self-assessment repayment claims were genuine, and to identify potential compliance risk. According to HMRC, those checks were undertaken where ‘risk indicators’ suggested that the person or the claim might not be legitimate. Although there was no obligation on taxpayers to respond, failure to do so would result in the repayment being withheld.

BDO reports that, because of concerns about potential fraud, HMRC is writing direct to taxpayers and not copying the letters to advisers. Taxpayers are asked to provide three forms of ID, bank statements, documentation to support construction industry scheme and employment details where relevant, a repayment questionnaire (which seeks background information on the underlying activity leading to the repayment request) and a form R38 (refund claim). HMRC may apply further checks where a grant has been claimed under the SEISS.

BDO notes that advisers should encourage clients to respond to such requests for information as soon as possible, to avoid both delays in receiving repayments and the hassle of being removed from self-assessment by HMRC.

The CIOT points out that, although the verification information must be sent to HMRC by post, HMRC is looking into the feasibility of alternative, more secure methods of submitting the documentation, which would seem to be more in line with the general approach over the last 12 months where submission of physical documents has been discouraged.

HMRC has published guidance on how to verify the authenticity of its communications, including contact made by letter, via the HMRC customer support team or, for advisers, via the agent helpline.

Issue: 1527
Categories: News