Buzzacott’s Head of Tax Investigations and Dispute Resolution, Mark Taylor gave his view on this case.
“I have seen a growing number of cases on suspended penalties where HMRC’s approach is inconsistent. Although I appreciate that each case should be dealt with on its own facts, it is only fair that a consistent approach is in operation by HMRC on suspension cases and where HMRC caseworkers do not interpret legislation or HMRC guidance instructions correctly we should not hesitate to challenge HMRC’s decisions.
Although I have some sympathy for HMRC officers attempting to follow Compliance Handbook instructions, which are HMRC’s interpretation of statute and case law, these are not updated to address Tribunal decisions and criticism. There have been numerous tribunal cases where HMRC has been held to have a flawed approach with regard to suspending penalties. Although I understand such cases may not set a legal precedent, HMRC is more than prepared to publicise First-tier tribunal decisions and rely on them when the decision is in its favour but not when the reverse is the case.”