HMRC target Covid relief schemes in increased enquiry activity

At the end of last year, it was announced that between April and November 2021, HM Revenue & Customs had launched over 26,000 reviews into claims under the various Covid relief schemes introduced at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 – almost as many as it had originally expected to undertake in total.

The adverse publicity received from the perceived loss of circa £5.5 billion means that HMRC will be under pressure to continue to work hard to recoup lost revenue, something that they may find easier to do now that their resources are freed up as the Covid relief schemes themselves have wound down.

Of course, most claims for relief were not made fraudulently. However, given the way in which schemes were hurried in, with good reason, it would be surprising if at least some claims, made in good faith, did not contain some errors, especially as guidance around Furlough schemes in particular changed almost on a weekly basis in the early days of the Pandemic.

It remains to be seen as to how sympathetic HMRC will be to taxpayers who made genuine mistakes in their claims.

What we do know is that however sympathetic HMRC may be, enquiries can take a long time to conclude and quite often HMRC use initial enquiries to delve into other areas of a business’s affairs. This is true even if ultimately no errors have been made.

Having access to the right professional support can help limit the scope of any enquiry and thus the time it takes to conclude matters, and to reduce the likelihood of penalties if errors have been made.

Fee protection insurance is a valuable asset which provides access to professional advice and support throughout all stages of an HMRC enquiry, whilst also providing protection from the costs otherwise associated with enquiries.

How can we help?

If you would like any information about our Investigation Services, or fee Protection Insurance, please contact:

Anthony Rose on anthony.rose@sgllp.co.uk / 07957 447 776

Nicholas McLeman on nicholas.mcleman@sgllp.co.uk / 07480 287 325

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