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When Can You Rely On HMRC Guidance?

Mostly, unless they change it ...


Posted by Roger Eddowes on 10/07/2023 @ 8:00AM

HM Revenue and Customs provides valuable guidance and information to taxpayers, assisting them in understanding their obligations, liabilities, and entitlements. However, it is crucial to determine when you can rely on it ...

HMRC's guidance plays a crucial role in assisting taxpayers!

HMRC's guidance plays a crucial role in assisting taxpayers!

copyright: flynt / 123rf

The law specifies that merely relying on another person does not constitute a reasonable excuse unless the person taking such reliance has exercised reasonable care to avoid any failure. If an individual delegates a task to another person, they remain responsible for ensuring its completion.

"Delegating a task does not automatically excuse
the individual from their obligations!"

To establish a reasonable excuse based on reliance, the person must demonstrate that they took reasonable care to communicate their requirements, set deadlines, and regularly monitor progress. Furthermore, they should be able to explain the actions they took to ensure compliance and, in most cases, understand the reasons for any failure.

So, all the above legalese is saying that in most cases, you're still responsible for any failure to submit the required information to HMRC, in a timely and accurate manner, regardless of whether you delegated that task to an employee, an agent or your accountant!

HMRC's advice and information, conveyed through letters, phone calls, webpages on, webchat, and social media posts, play a crucial role in assisting taxpayers. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the information provided by HMRC may not always provide a definitive answer for every situation.

In such cases, individuals can contact HMRC directly, seek independent advice, or appoint someone to represent them in dealings with HMRC. The advice and information given by HMRC to an appointed representative still apply to the individual.

It is worth noting that HMRC's duty is simply to collect the correct amount of tax as required by the law. If the understanding of the law changes, HMRC may be obliged to collect tax based on the new interpretation. Consequently, they may not always be bound by previous advice or guidance and may choose not to apply new understandings retrospectively.

"Which is a bit of a cop-out if you ask me!"

Although HMRC's guidance and information serve as valuable resources for taxpayers, it is essential to understand the circumstances in which reliance on HMRC guidance can be considered a reasonable excuse for non-compliance.

If you're at all confused about what HMRC are saying, then always talk to your accountant or tax adviser before taking any action.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent


Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover whether some HMRC guidance is correct, it may be a great idea to call me on 01908 774320 and let's see how I can help.

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About Roger Eddowes ...


Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.