MacDougall & Co
Chartered Tax Advisers


Time Limits

How Far Can The Revenue Go Back / How Far Can You Go Back - for refunds, etc

From 1 April 2010 (or, for some people, 1 April 2012) new time limits come into play. This means that

The Revenue can enquire into a tax return for 12 months after it was submitted, but this time limit is now meaningless in most circumstances. See below. If the return is submitted late, this 'enquiry window' changes.

If the Revenue make a 'discovery' they can go back 4 years. Since the meaning of 'discovery' has changed over the years to mean practically anything, four years from the end of the tax year is the current actual time limit for either you or the Revenue to go back.

So, in broad terms, it's fair to say that the "normal" limit is 4 years from the end of the tax year for the Revenue to look at you or for you to claim a refund.

Unless the Revenue can

1. show carelessness (but not simply a mistake) on your or your agent's part, in which case they can go back 6 years, or

2. show fraud or a failure to notify chargeability or to disclose a tax scheme, they can go back 20 years.

Posted on 22 August 2010
Source: TAXline, publication of the Tax Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
Amended by MacDougall & Co

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