Engaging with HMRC
It is clear CRMs have a key role in the SAO regime. As there is no defined standard, CRMs will in effect decide what is reasonable for each business and determine if penalties might be applied. Therefore, early and effective engagement with your CRM is crucial to improving buy-in to your business’ approach to SAO, giving the CRM confidence in your business and also providing a possible defence in future if isolated issues are subsequently identified. HMRC has confirmed it is looking for corporates to respond in this manner with the overall expectation being that CRMs will at least be aware if there are any issues prior to SAO certification.
The starting point to build on your relationship with the CRM is having an open and active dialogue about your business’ approach to SAO sign off. This could then be extended to include sharing and discussing documentation around tax processes and controls, allowing access to systems in a controlled way, sharing details of identified risks and plans for their improvement and ongoing monitoring.
Demonstrating the steps taken and getting buy-in from the CRM along the way should help them buy in to the overall approach to SAO sign off - and we understand some businesses are seeking to get this agreement in writing. At a minimum, it would be worth documenting discussions you have with your CRM in relation to SAO in case that individual changes over time. Keeping your CRM updated on progress made and obstacles faced when addressing these steps also means that the CRM is involved in the progress a business is making in meeting the SAO requirements. In summary, it is crucial to engage with HMRC early, agree an approach and keep them regularly updated on progress.