My thanks to a loyal reader for passing on this recent tribunal case, in which HMRC's £300 fine is quashed and HMRC come out of it looking like idiots.
"The Notice relied upon by the respondents is so poorly thought through and so inadequately drafted that it fails the requirement of certainty and precision, which is a fundamental requirement ( as explained above ) .
In this context it is also worth pointing out that the requirements made of the recipient of a Notice must be discernible from within the four corners of the Notice itself unless some other document is specifically incorporated by reference.
It will not do for it to be argued, as it was argued before us, that some of the details about requested information might have been gleaned by looking at the earlier correspondence. That might be so; it might not be so. However, that is not a legitimate way to proceed because the Notice must be self - contained and must be construed to establish precisely what information and/or documents it properly requires the recipient to provide.
A taxpayer cannot be in breach of a Notice unless it is a valid notice. By “valid” we mean one which meets the requirements of certainty and precision, which we have discussed above.
For the two separate reasons that we have set out above , this appeal is allowed and the £300 penalty quashed."
Tax does have to be taxing.
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