On several occasions I've needed clarification on tax rules and have asked at the public tax office, and officials have provided guidance that another official has contradicted and/or denied at a later occasion. This has lead to tax adjustments in both directions, but so far when I've informed them they haven't enforced overdue penalties in the times when I needed to make additional payments.
What worries me is that I feel they could demand I pay a penalty at any time and all I have is my word to back me.
Public officials are human and make mistakes, and my tax situation seems to be rather rare so I believe they are interpreting the regulations as they go sometimes.
Is there any way I can defend myself against penalties when mistakes are made in my favor?
Some options I've considered:
- Asking via email: this doesn't seem to be an option in this case though or they ask me to visit the tax office to discuss sensitive specifics
- Recording the conversation: I don't believe they'd allow audio recording due to the presence of other consultations in the room/building, not sure about recording laws over the phone (may be the same as 1)
- Asking for a signed statement with the advice they provided, but I imagine that they would just say something to the effect of "this isn't a service we provide"
- Asking for legal citations when they provide the advice. I'm not sure they know though or if they've gotten their information indirectly through training, if they'd be willing to look it up, and if there's a reasonable number of citations (it could be quite a lot, and there may be other background knowledge in their decisions).
My examples above are mostly about tax but I'd like a general answer if possible, for example for other fields or something I could further google if traveling abroad, etc.