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HMRC has published a new guidance titled ‘Corresponding with HMRC by email’. The guidance was published on 9 August 2022 and explains some of the risk factors associated with contacting HMRC in this way. HMRC suggests that the information contained in the new guidance should help taxpayers decide whether or not they want to communicate with HMRC by email. Further, HMRC will not deal with taxpayers by email unless they confirm in writing that they accept the risks of doing so.
The guidance identifies the following main risks of communicating with HMRC by email:
- confidentiality and privacy — there’s a risk that emails sent over the internet may be intercepted;
- confirming your identity — it’s crucial that HMRC only communicate with established contacts at their correct email addresses;
- there’s no guarantee that an email received over an insecure network, like the internet, has not been altered during transit; and
- attachments could contain a virus or malicious code.
HMRC also works to reduce the risks when sending emails by desensitising information, for example, by only quoting part of any unique reference numbers and can also use encryption if required. HMRC will accept incoming emails and can respond by telephone or in writing. This may be requested if, for example, multiple people have access to the email address sending the message.
In order to use email as a way of communicating, HMRC requires confirmation in writing by post or email:
- that you understand and accept the risks of using email;
- that you are content for financial information to be sent by email; and
- that attachments can be used.
It is possible to opt out of receiving email at any time.