You would think that a ‘helpline’ is there to provide help. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially one provided by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Imagine you have a technical query regarding your business tax affairs and phone one of the helplines provided by HMRC. You would like help on how to treat certain transactions for tax purposes.
You provide all the facts and think that you can completely rely on the answer provided. When you find out that the advice given by HMRC was wrong and that your business now owes more than £100,000 in tax, you may feel a little angry. Perhaps you even consider going to court.
You may be surprised to learn that, even if you had proof of the advice that the HMRC helpline gave you, you would still lose the case. This is exactly what happened to one taxpayer this year. The taxpayer was told that the helplines provided by HM Revenue & Customs are there merely to provide general advice rather than specific advice on which to rely.