HMRC publishes new Guidelines for Compliance

HMRC has started to publish Guidelines for Compliance, to set out its view on tax issues which it considers are complex, widely misunderstood or novel. The Guidelines are intended as tools, in addition to HMRC's manuals, to help businesses get their tax right where they want to operate in a low tax-risk environment.

The Guidelines will highlight interpretations which, in HMRC's view, have a higher risk of not complying with the law, and will suggest HMRC's preferred, compliant approach/treatment and method for calculating the tax due for some transactions. HMRC also intends the Guidelines to show common problems to avoid, or share best practice.

The first in the series to be published is GFC1 (2022): Help with PAYE Settlement Agreements.

Do the Guidelines override HMRC's manuals?

No. The contents of HMRC's manuals and other publications still represents its view. The Guidelines will keep within those views, but give more insight and detail in areas where HMRC considers this could help businesses and their advisers understand HMRC's expectations and get their taxes right first time.

Do the Guidelines affect whether a notification for uncertain tax treatment is needed?

Yes. The Guidelines will help agents and businesses to find out HMRC's known position for the purposes of the Uncertain Tax Treatment rules.

If the Guidelines are followed, will that mean HMRC will not open an enquiry or compliance check?

No, although following the Guidelines should reduce the chance of HMRC needing to open an enquiry or issue discovery and penalty assessments. The business remains responsible for self-assessing its tax position when it files a return, in accordance with the law. The Guidelines are not 'safe harbours', so HMRC may still check tax returns, despite the business following the approach set out in the Guidelines.

For further information, or for assistance, please contact Claire McGuigan, Karen Doherty or Lorraine Nelson.

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