Agressive timescales from HMRC (Self Assessment)

I received a letter from HMRC dated 12/01/18, arrived at my office 15/01/18.

It was a check of a client's SATR for 15/16 relating to student loan repayments and bank interest (he failed to declare £3.06 of bank interest!!!). 

Bearing in mind it was sent in the middle of January, universally acknowledged to be the busiest month of the year for self assessment and all those involved (accountants and HMRC), they had requested a response by 22/01/18, just 7 days after the letter arrived. 

I have not been able to confirm the responses to their questions with the client as yet - busy times, but we're working on it. 

I then received another letter on 10/02/18 (dated 07/02/18) with a "notice to provide" information.

The tone of this letter was pretty aggressive, stating that this legal notice had been issued because we did not respond to the original letter. 

They've requested a response by 9 March 2018, which seems more reasonable than the original 1 week deadline!

However, the letter becomes more aggressive "what will happen if you do not do what this notice asks", including:

1. Potential penalty of £300 with no further warning

2. Further daily penalties of £60 per day until you respond

3. Similar penalties if you conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of any documents asked for

4. Penalties of up to £3000 for any inaccuracies in information/documentation provided. 

Further information is provided about the right to appeal, but also the right to go to tribunal.

This feels like a very aggressive letter, given that the original letter was only received on 15/01/18......I can read it fairly rationally, but this letter has also gone to the client, and I can't imagine how he must feel having read it. 

I understand the need to clamp down and collect unpaid taxes, but the tone of this letter is accusatory and excessive under the circumstances. 

Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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  • Enquiry letter sent by HMRC 5 January.  Stated that they would telephone to check progress on 12 January with the information requested (pensions) to be supplied by 26 January.  When the casework telephoned on 12 January I did state that I was a little busy at present but would respond once I had filed all the 2016/17 returns.  The individual did then volunteer an informal extension of two weeks.

    Information supplied on 6 February.  Closure notice issued on 14 February.This was the second enquiry into pension contributions inside a month.  Both were promptly closed when evidence of the contribution was supplied.  However, surely they should be able to cross check the pension contributions on the return with the basic rate tax relief claimed by the pension provider claims using the taxpayers NIC number.

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