What Taxpayers Should Do When HMRC Visits Unannounced

HMRC has adopted a softer approach to tax debt collection during the pandemic, giving taxpayers much more flexibility in how and when they pay. However, this is now changing ...

I've been made aware that some people are receiving visits from HMRC's bailiffs completely out of the blue. They may not have even been aware they owed tax when the 'field force' arrived on their doorstep.

"These visits are carried out under civil law, but can still be quite alarming when they happen!"

Sometimes, they even make visits when no tax is due. A taxpayer I knew did owe them money, but had paid it off completely some months previously. However, this amended return had not been processed due to IT issues at HMRC and even though a note had been added to the taxpayer's account, the field force still visited.

The accountant's professional body, the ICAEW is working closely with HMRC to ensure better communication between the self-assessment processing team and the debt management team. They are looking into ways to accelerate the processing of amended returns, reducing the times the debt management team takes action.

In the meantime, should you receive an unexpected visit, remember the following:

- You do not have to let anyone from HMRC into either your home or business premises
- Ask them to leave the letter from HMRC Debt Management and Banking department giving you the reason for the visit
- Call your accountant or tax advisor immediately
- If HMRC representitives are already in your home or on your business premises, you are legally entitled to ask them to leave
- HMRC staff cannot take any documents or other information without your consent
- Unless they have a court order they cannot remove any physical property that belongs to you
- If you are subject to a 'dawn raid', this will be under criminal law, so you should seek legal representation from a criminal lawyer immediately

The thing to take away from all this is that if HMRC comes knocking, do not let them into your home or business premises and get your accountant or tax advisor to liaise with them to find out what's going on and manage the situation on your behalf.

Unless you've broken the law ... don't panic, I'm here to help.

If you feel inspired to find out more about anything I've said here, do call me on 01908 774320 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.