The judgment in a recent Tribunal case reinforced this position. The facts of the case are not relevant to this blog post - other than to note that the taxpayers, Parnalls Solicitors, had sought, to rely on HMRC guidance notes when arguing their case.
In a concluding statement the Tribunal judge, Roger Berner stated:
"Mr Harvey referred us to a number of extracts from HMRC publications and other materials in support of an argument that HMRC were guilty of inconsistency in arguing the case against the Appellant. We do not consider that these were material to our decision, which depends on the law as we have found it and not on any interpretation which might be attributed to HMRC. We do not therefore refer to such materials in our decision, and we make no comment on their validity or otherwise."HMRC's guidance can be helpful. It may be right, but it may be wrong. And it is of no relevance when it comes to arguing a point of law. In practice any appeal starts with negotiations directly with HMRC. At this stage, if their guidance is helpful by all means refer to it. But such arguments cease to be relevant once your appeal gets to the Tribunal.