Protective assessments for offshore tax liabilities

15 Mar 2021

HMRC have advised CIOT that they are sending letters and issuing protective assessments over the next few weeks relating to offshore tax liabilities.

The bulk of these will be to taxpayers who have made a voluntary disclosure under the Worldwide Disclosure facility (WDF) but who have not yet settled with HMRC. HMRC need to issue protective assessments to keep years in date. The raising of assessments is an annual activity for HMRC, but this year is different due to the extended assessing time limits for the requirement to correct (RTC) which ends on 5 April 2021. This will result in the raising of more assessments this year.

HMRC have provided us with the following statement and an example of the letter that is being sent to taxpayers:

HMRC are making assessments over the next few weeks in respect of offshore tax disclosed to them, following the introduction of the Requirement to Correct (RTC) legislation (Schedule 18 F(No2)A 2017).  The RTC extended some assessing time limits, which run out on 5 April 2021.  Where a settlement has not yet been agreed with HMRC, and it is necessary to assess the tax, a protective assessment will be made shortly.  A taxpayer’s right to appeal, and ask for a postponement of tax, are just the same as usual.

The Worldwide Disclosure Facility is available for customers to make a voluntary disclosure to HMRC. Through this process HMRC is helping customers to bring their tax affairs up to date and, usually, cases are settled by way of a contract settlement.  When customers choose to disclose this way, they can self-assess their penalty and the majority of disclosures made this way will not result in an in-depth enquiry.

However, there are some customers with historic tax liability disclosures with whom HMRC have not yet been able to conclude a contract settlement.  HMRC is restricted by assessing time limits set out in legislation, and for some of those customers where tax may fall outside those limits, HMRC will need to protect the tax that would otherwise be lost.  HMRC will do this by sending those customers tax assessments.  This does not mean that HMRC cannot continue to engage with agents or customers to agree their tax position for those years. If that is your customer’s preference you should contact HMRC to arrange this.

If you represent one of those customers who has tax that will fall out of the assessing time limits on 6 April 2021, HMRC will raise an assessment based on the customer’s disclosure and will write to you to advise you of the tax liability that HMRC have calculated.  If your customer does not agree with the assessment raised by HMRC it is important that you or they write to HMRC to appeal it.

The letter and attachments that HMRC will send out, sets out the years HMRC needs to protect, the tax that is due, how to make a payment and what customers should do if they disagree. Where there is an agent acting, HMRC will send copy will be sent to them.

Letters will also need to be tailored to individual circumstances, particularly where there is an ongoing compliance check.

Example Letter