HMRC Assessments And Disputes

Any loss of revenue to the Crown is high on HMRC’s list of concerns, and where HMRC feel that funds due to the Crown have not been paid, HMRC may issue an assessment and/or a wrongdoing penalty.

In certain circumstances, HMRC can only issue a wrongdoing penalty once an assessment has been issued, and therefore we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as you receive any correspondence regarding an assessment or penalty from HMRC, even if it is just a warning, as early action prevent the matter from escalating.

What is a HMRC Assessment?

An assessment is a formal notification of sums due to HMRC. The assessment should set out what is claim for, under what area of area it is claimed, and how you can appeal the process. Assessments can be issued for several reasons. An Excise Assessment can be issued where HMRC believe that Excise duty is due to the Crown but has not been paid. A Vat Assessment can be issued where HMRC believe that Vat sums are due to the Crown but have not been paid. HMRC may also issues assessments for non-payment of personal or corporate sums due to HMRC.

Can I Respond To The Accusations?

Yes of course. HMRC will usually advise of their intention to issue an assessment prior to issuing it, setting out their reasons, as well as asking for information or comments from you in support of your position to consider whether or not to issue an assessment.

What If After Considering My Information An Assessment Is Issued?

Once an assessment is formally raised, you are able to request a review of the decision where the matter will be considered by an alternative HMRC officer which was not involved in the original issuing of the assessment. That officer will consider the matter in full before providing their review decision to you. Be aware that the time frame to request a review is usually 30 days from the date of the original decision, and HMRC usually have 45 days to provide their review decision.

What If On Review The Decision Remains The Same?

If you still dispute the outcome once the review decision has been issued, you can appeal the review decision to the Tax Tribunal. The Tax Tribunal is similar to a court however the procedure is less formal. Any appeal to the Tax tribunal must be made within 30 days of the date of the written review decision issued to you. There may also be circumstances where you can appeal an original assessment decision straight to the Tax Tribunal and avoid requesting a review by an alternative HMRC officer. It is important to seek legal advice on your matter as soon as possible, as the costs and time frame may well affect your decision in how to push forward.

Will I Have To Pay A HMRC Assessment?

If the assessment is not disputed by you, then HMRC will deem that the sums are accepted as due by you and will pursue you for these sums. HMRC may also take other actions as well, such as issuing wrongdoing penalties, so it is important to understand the implications of any assessments issued as soon as possible to allow you to understand the full picture. It is vitally important to seek legal advice at the earliest stage to ensure that any evidence or information in dispute of a sum claimed by HMRC is presented accurately and as quickly as possible. Failure to take the correct action may have serious consequences for your business.

Our team can assist you if you have concerns about the quality of your due diligence checks for your current business or for a future business opportunities. Altion Law are specialists in this area of law and will advise:

  • Whether you are even the correct party for HMRC to pursue;
  • Whether there are any additional risks, such as further assessments or penalties against company directors personally.
  • Whether there are any defences available to you.


Altion Law are specialists at advising and representing parties who have received HMRC assessments and wrongdoing penalties from HMRC. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please either complete an Online Enquiry or call us on 01908 414990 and we will be pleased to help you.