HMRC Win Surprising Decision on the Meaning of “from”

A recent case was heard at the First-tier Tribunal concerning the meaning of the word “from”, when considering HMRC’s right to enquire into a Corporation Tax return.

The taxpayer company filed their return at 2.30pm on 31 January 2012, for the accounting period to 31 March 2011.

HMRC issued a notice to enquire into the return on 31 January 2013. The taxpayer argued that HMRC were out of time as the enquiry window closed on 30 January 2013, as FA 1998, sch 18 para 24(2) states that “notice of enquiry may be given at any time up to 12 months from the filing date”.

The Tribunal found that “from” in this case should be considered as similar to “after”, which would mean the enquiry window should exclude the day on which the return was filed. This appears slightly odd as it effectively gives HMRC an extra day that it is hard to prove was intended by the rules. As the notice was issued within the period specified by the Tribunal, the taxpayer’s appeal was dismissed.