On 31 October 2019, HMRC published a technical note on proposed legislation which will apply both retrospectively and prospectively to perfect HMRC’s use of automated processes to serve certain statutory notices and carry out specified “routine” tasks.

The legislation will provide that, in relation to the specified tasks, anything capable of being done by an HMRC officer may, instead, be done by HMRC through the use of a computer or other electronic means. The tasks that will be covered include providing individuals, trustees, partnerships and corporate bodies with notices to file returns, correcting personal or trustee returns and penalty determinations.

HMRC considers that this will not result in a change for taxpayers. It has been introduced, it says, due to recent case law in which it has been held, in certain circumstances, that automated notices do not satisfy the relevant legislation. HMRC has confirmed that the legislation will not be applied retrospectively to taxpayers who received a settled judgment from a court or tribunal on the issue of automation before 31 October 2019. It provides no such clarity, however, for taxpayers who have ongoing litigation involving such issues.

The technical note can be viewed here