HMRC Disputes

Individual Compliance Check (or enquiry or investigation).

For both businesses and individuals, HM Revenue and Customs investigations can be intimidating.

We provide assistance and protection to both clients and their advisors. Whenever our clients have a dispute with HMRC, we strive to resolve it as quickly as possible. Most importantly we remove the stress from the situation. If you need assistance managing the process, we will either work alongside you or manage the entire investigation for you. We are happy to be able to offer bespoke solutions to ensure your investigation support is delivered in a way that works for you.

We have extensive experience assisting HMRC in handling tax investigations and disputes, both in practice and within HMRC, and we have significant knowledge of the most recent legislative and practical developments.

Whether you need tactical support, data handling and management support, we have what you need.

Unlike larger firms and our competitors, we offer affordable pricing and we will agree on a fixed budget for our engagements.

Using Personal Liability Notices to transfer liabilities

What is it?

A Personal Liability Notice (PLN) is an order issued by HMRC under certain circumstances that makes a director personally liable for company financial obligations, such as VAT, NICs, and PAYE. To prevent individuals from liquidating a company to avoid tax liabilities that had accrued during trading, this legislation was enacted.

HMRC will seek to transfer the liability to the directors for the following reasons:

  • There was serious neglect or fraud involved in the failure to pay the tax liability
  • There has been a lack of regular payments of tax liabilities
  • Instead of clearing tax liabilities, payments are made to connected parties or directors
  • In the past, officers of the company have used "phoenix" companies to avoid tax liabilities (i.e. following an insolvency, they continue doing business under a new company with the same personnel).

If the company has demonstrably made every attempt to pay their tax liabilities, HMRC shouldn’t issue a PLN, although we do quite routinely see them do so.

What is the problem

Directors need to take immediate action if they receive one of these notices to prevent their personal liability from being fully transferred. Recent experiences have shown that HMRC has become increasingly "trigger happy" in seeking to transfer PAYE/NIC and VAT liabilities to individual directors. Often, HMRC has acted outside of the letter of the law by using this technique to transfer the company's liability to its directors, and such instances are challengeable. Caseworkers at HMRC receive substantial amounts of pressure from senior management to meet internal targets, which we believe leads to the incorrect issuance of notices. Their caseworkers are less likely to take a pragmatic approach, which is why it is essential to seek early professional advice.

How can we help

In this area, we have had substantial success in resisting such attempts by HMRC to transfer liabilities. We consider, among other things, the following:

  • In light of the legislation, is HMRC's approach lawful
  • In relation to the issuance of determinations and directions, has HMRC adhered to time limits?
  • HMRC's use of the legislation is unreasonable or inappropriate
  • Is HMRC acting outside of the law's intentions

HMRC has found that we have significantly more engagement with them when we take a proactive stance on such matters in advance of the PLN being issued.

In the event that you have received a notice, we have a number of tools at our disposal to assist you in resolving the matter as quickly as possible. Examples include general negotiations, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) or an appeal to the Tax Tribunal – which is far less expensive than you might think.

Require more information?

If you or one of your clients have received PLNs or think that they might be imminent and would like to discuss the matter, for a confidential no obligation chat please call 0161 511 0220 or email