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Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet

HMRC Requests for Documents

billypeel
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:33 pm

HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby billypeel » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:36 am

I work on ships and am undergoing a "check" at the moment.
HMRC have asked for 2 specific sets of documents to be provided (by the shipping company).
One is all the ship's logs for the period (72 pages of A3). I think this is so they can check when the ship was in UK waters.
The other is all the daily reports sent from the ship back to head office for the entire tax year (between 4000 and 6000 pages of A4). They want to "determine the nature of work it was involved in". I presume this is so they can decide whether to classify the vessel as a ship or as a fixed installation, and thereby determine whether I am eligible for the Seaman's Earnings Deduction.
Since most of the information in these logs and reports will be confidential, is a shipping company obliged to release them to me?
Also, given the quantities of material involved, could the company just ignore such a request or say it is impossible to process?
Would HMRC then say, "well you haven't complied so we will assume you are not cooperating and penalise you accordingly"?
Any advice on how to deal with HMRC on this?
Thanks in advance.

pawncob
Posts: 4392
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:06 pm
Location: West Sussex

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby pawncob » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:42 am

These are not documents within your control, so HMRC can't insist that you provide them. If the Inspector wants them, he will have to ask the ship owners. You could ask the company for a summary of your journeys which HMRC will accept as evidence, and description of your duties.
With a pinch of salt take what I say, but don't exceed your RDA

mullet
Posts: 3242
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:26 am

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby mullet » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:48 am

Sometimes the HMRC person requesting the information may not understand the nature and/or extent of the documents concerned. In strictness they should focus only on their perceived risks, and take account of how you operate and what records you are likely to have. They can only ask for items in your power or possession, and then only items reasonably required for the purpose of establishing whether your return is correct.

I see that they have immediately requested "third party" information through you. The shipping company would probably only release information which directly relates to you, but I don't think that it is obliged to do so. If it refuses, then that information is not within your "power". HMRC could make a direct request to the co though.

I suggest that you find out what the co will let you have, and then contact HMRC to seek clarification and suggest that providing up to 6,000 sheets of A4 is unreasonable.

billypeel
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby billypeel » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:04 pm

Many thanks to pawncob and msp.
I thought the request seemed unreasonable!
I think I will do as you advise and ask the company (if I can find an address for them!) for a one page summary of the work they did in the tax year and take it from there.
Thanks again.

wamstax
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:39 pm
Location: Operate Nationally but based in Aberdeen
Contact:

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby wamstax » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:18 pm

I think that you might be misinterpreting their request in that it is only the ships log for the vessel or vessels that you performed duties on that they are after and from my experience you would normally get a copy of that from the ships captain each year to assist you with your tax return? Otherwise how did you compile your days on board and at sea etc. You will also have your record of sea service book that will show the date of joining and leaving the ship.

I would respond by saying that the above is all the documents you have under your control and you are enclosing copies - (do not send the originals in case they lose them)to satisfy their request. Of course if you want to be pedantic you can always say that their request is unreasonable as it refers to documents that are not in your power or possession and therefore you are unable to comply. However giving them copies of your own documents will at least show that you are trying to be reasonable.

As far as their request for information to enable them to determine if the vessel was a ship or fixed installation I would ask them for the reasons that they have to doubt that your claim was not validly made and whether this request has been made for each member of the vessels crew.
regards and hope this helps
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
Operates Nationally with competitive costs
and email and phone contact can be obtained from website

billypeel
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby billypeel » Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:48 pm

Hi wamstax,
They already have copies of my sea service book and, in some cases, extracts from the ship's log. Extracts, not the entire log, are usually all that is needed, though I was once asked to provide the Draught of Water and Freeboard Log - only one page fortunately.
I have the impression that the request for evidence of the nature of the work carried out is connected to an earlier attempt to reclassify vessels that worked anywhere in proximity to an oilwell as fixed installations. My understanding is that HMRC changed its guidance in 2009 (EIM33105) to the effect that this ruling only applied to vessels that actually do things to oilwells - like the ones trying to fix the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. My guess is that they want confirmation that my vessel did not do this. But it's only a guess so perhaps I should ask for their reasons for the request and maybe ask if a summary would do just as well.

wamstax
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:39 pm
Location: Operate Nationally but based in Aberdeen
Contact:

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby wamstax » Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:31 pm

Yes I would recommend that you submit (or say that you have submitted) all the personal records that you have regarding the ships log etc and say that unless they can show you otherwise you do not consider it reasonable for them to be asking you for information that is clearly not in your control but belongs to a third party namely the ship owners.

You might suggest that they contact the shipowners direct for any information that you have not obtained or for which you do not have copies of documents (as clearly you would want any attack on a particular ship to be monitored by your employer as clearly it would affect all employees). You might also wish to consider consulting your union in case they can assist.

regards and hope that this helps
bill@wamstaxltd.com
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
regards and hope this helps
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
Operates Nationally with competitive costs
and email and phone contact can be obtained from website

eurodive
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:11 am

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby eurodive » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:18 am

I have recently been asked for these documents and am under investigation

Having spoken with the vessel master he has said

UK HMRC had NO right to ask for vessel logs outside UK jurisdiction, HE STATED THAT THE SEAMANS DISCHARGE BOOK SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT As HMRC’s powers do not extend offshore ON FOREIGN FLAGGED VESSELS,

He also said that UK HMRC are not allowed to board any foreign flagged vessel to check any logs As HMRC’s powers do not extend offshore:

(1) A ship is ONLY a British ship if—
(a) The ship is registered in the United Kingdom

Additionally the HS 205 `Help sheet 205`Seafarers’ Earnings Deduction HMRC states under the heading ;

Records

You should keep your discharge book and all other documents which support your claim. Do not send them with your tax return, but you may be asked to provide them at a later date.

• It does not mention specifically in HS 205 any other documents that it can rely on, maybe there are no other legal documents that HMRC can rely upon and by asking for additional documentation only seek to make a legitimate claim more difficult for the claimant!

See legitimate expectation doc which states;

Cameron and others v CRC, Queen’s Bench Division

The High Court said a taxpayer was entitled to rely upon a statement made in a formal publication, unless the statement was revoked, withdrawn or altered.

Does this mean that in stating in HS 2005 that You should keep your discharge book it only refers to discharge book as no other documents are named

wamstax
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:39 pm
Location: Operate Nationally but based in Aberdeen
Contact:

Re: HMRC Requests for Documents

Postby wamstax » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:12 pm

The HMRC guidance note HS205 is no more than that a Guidance Note. It has no statutory authority.

Personally I think that your Vessel Captain has got himself side tracked on pedantics. I also don't assume that he has any tax experience but of course I could be wrong.

Basically it has little to do with the UK HMRC's powers to board vessels or anything else like that; it has to do with your claim to being entitled to Seafarers Relief and HMRC are entitled to request the production by you of any documents within your power or possession that it is REASONABLE to request to seek to confirm (or deny) your claim to Seafarers Deduction. This could of course be documents that would show that you were in fact serving on a vessel and outside UK waters and not on a fixed installation etc. I do however consider that the latter information is available to HMRC from their own central information e.g. the classification of particular vessels etc
regards and hope this helps
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
Operates Nationally with competitive costs
and email and phone contact can be obtained from website


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