Concession A19—which allows HMRC to waive tax where it has failed to make proper use of information provided to it and where the taxpayer could reasonably have believed that their affairs were in order—is to remain unchanged.

HMRC have been reviewing this concession and put forward several suggested amendments which have given rise to much public comment. This concession allows (or requires) HMRC to waive tax where it has failed to make proper and timely use of information provided to it and where the taxpayer could reasonably have believed that their affairs were in order.

To its credit, HMRC has taken on board all the criticisms made about these proposals and has decided to leave the concession in place. This is obviously welcome. The ability (or requirement) for HMRC to act fairly in these circumstances is not something which needs to be changed—indeed, it is something to be supported. After all, there can be no abuse here—this is just a concession enabling HMRC to use its discretion to act fairly.

This must surely be a good thing. I seem to remember somebody important saying: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d... it blesseth him that gives and him that takes…etc.”