Recent HMRC meetings - key messages and discussion points

Mar 01, 2021

This Institute regularly engages with HMRC on matters of interest for our members. In recent months, the focus of meetings has been on the various COVID-19 supports, preparations for the end of the EU transition period and post EU exit and the 2019/20 self-assessment (“SA”) deadline. Set out below are key messages from recent meetings.

Representative Body Steering Group

This is the highest level forum meeting of the Professional Bodies with meetings taking place approximately five to six times annually.

At the most recent in February, this Institute stressed to HMRC that the late announcement of the 2019/20 SA easement placed our members under extreme pressure and stress which could have been avoided if earlier submissions by Chartered Accountants Ireland and other representative bodies were heeded by HMRC. We also reiterated the importance of HMRC ensuring that their helplines were open on the weekend of 27 and 28 February as HMRC at that time had no plans to do so.

According to HMRC, the SA easement wasn’t an easy decision and was being actively discussed and monitored within HMRC since before Christmas with Professional Body feedback also being taken into consideration. HMRC is also looking at being more visible in media in future as some media outlets were wrongly reporting that there was a deadline extension.

The following key points are also worthy of note:-

  • HMRC are seeking a better cost model going forward as Making Tax Digital continues. This is aimed at taking on board feedback such as the different taxpayer types for working out how MTD impacts from a cost perspective;
  • Free software is not expected to be available as part of MTD for corporation tax;
  • The Institute asked HMRC to consider extending the deadline to respond to the MTD for CT consultation due to the pandemic;
  • The Agent Dedicated Line (“ADL”) is continuing to see reduced performance. HMRC responded by saying it is aiming to use more experienced advisors on the ADL. They are also looking at fully enabling the prompt which puts calls through to advisors which advises that the caller is an agent as this isn’t fully enabled at present. Agents are sometimes being told HMRC can only talk about one client per call – HMRC are seeking to resolve this also.
  • HMRC are planning to hold a bespoke meeting onthe ADL in the next few months to help better understand the demand for and best use of this service by agents;
  • HMRC would welcome your feedback on the ADL;
  • Given the level of tax debt owed to HMRC as a result of deferrals and Time to Pay arrangements, HMRC’s approach to collecting this in future is critical - the head of debt management will be engaging with the Professional Bodies directly on this; and
  • At the request of this Institute, post EU exit will continue to be discussed at future meetings.

Wealthy External Stakeholder Forum

Forum meetings are attended by Alan Gourley, Chair of the NI Tax Committee. The minutes of the most recent forum meeting are available.

Virtual Communications Group

These meetings take place monthly with recent meetings focusing on the various HMRC administered COVID-19 supports in addition to MTD. The following key points came out of the most recent meeting last month:-

  • Changes are required to the calculation of some CJRS claims from 1 March 2021;
  • HMRC will now accept requests from agents to prevent employer details of CJRS claims being published as a result of intimidation or violence. Claims not to publish as a result of data protection concerns are not being accepted by HMRC;
  • SEISS grants are classified as relevant earnings for UK pension purposes;
  • As the end of the soft landing for MTD for VAT digital links ends in April 2021, HMRC will be holding webinars to highlight this;
  • Compliance letters are expected to be sent out this month to those businesses mandated to use MTD for VAT who are not currently doing so; and
  • HMRC is developing its approach to charging VAT penalties where a business chooses to defer VAT due to COVID-19 but does not pay by the agreed payment date(s) – the Budget on Wednesday is expected to contain more details of this.