Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) recently updated its position statement regarding the reliability of the guidance it offers to taxpayers. This pivotal update highlights the circumstances when taxpayers can depend on publicly available guidance from HMRC, whether obtained directly or via the HMRC website.
The updated guidance introduces an element of accountability for HMRC in scenarios where taxpayers have acted based on erroneous advice or information provided by HMRC. If it can be demonstrated that taxpayers reasonably relied on this advice, and it would be unjust for HMRC to diverge from the advice provided, HMRC may be held accountable to that advice.
However, the guidance also outlines a degree of flexibility for HMRC. It specifies that should there be alterations in tax law as a result of court decisions, HMRC reserves the right to apply the correct tax position from a future date, rather than being tied to its previous advice.
In essence, while HMRC offers valuable advice and guidance, taxpayers should maintain a degree of vigilance. It is reasonable to rely on HMRC’s advice, but always be aware of potential changes in tax law and the implications these may have.
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