Dealing with HMRC – collection

Tax agents toolkits

HM Revenue and Customs guidance to help tax agents and advisers avoid errors in their client's returns.


These toolkits provide guidance on areas of error that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) frequently see in returns and set out the steps that you can take to reduce those errors.

They should help you to:

  • ensure that returns are completed correctly, minimising errors
  • focus on the areas of possible error that HMRC consider key
  • demonstrate reasonable care

HMRC has produced a short video that gives useful information about the toolkits (running time 3 minutes).

View the ‘HMRC agent toolkits’ video

Download a transcript of the ‘HMRC agent toolkits’ video

The toolkits are available for download only. To view them, you need to use a PDF file viewer such as Adobe Reader which is available to download free of charge from the Adobe website.

These toolkits are aimed at helping and supporting tax agents and advisers. They are part of HMRC’s wider approach to improving tax compliance, which is focused on help and support to ensure that returns are correct.

The toolkits have been developed with the benefit of input from agents and their representatives, including the Compliance Reform Forum. However, the content is based on HMRC’s view of how tax law should be applied.

Read more about the Compliance Reform Forum

The application of these toolkits to specific cases will depend on the law at the relevant time and on the precise facts.

The 3 key elements of each toolkit are:

  • a checklist - to help you to address the areas of possible error that HMRC identifies as key
  • explanatory notes - which identify the underlying types of error, how to mitigate those errors and a brief outline of the tax treatment - HMRC recommends that you review these notes, even if you are confident about answering the questions in the checklist
  • cross references - linking to the relevant guidance available online, so you can easily find more detailed guidance if required

By being more open on the errors that HMRC sees in returns, and suggesting the steps that you can take to reduce those errors, the toolkits will help you to assure the completeness and accuracy of your clients’ returns. Use of the toolkits is voluntary and you can use them in whatever way best suits you and your clients.

The toolkits can be used:

  • as a straightforward checklist
  • to complement or check and refresh your existing processes
  • as a training aid for your staff

It should not be necessary for you to refer to all of the toolkits, only those that are relevant to your clients’ circumstances and the return being completed.


Each toolkit is focused on errors which HMRC finds commonly occur. They are not comprehensive statements of all types of error that may arise in any particular return. For areas not dealt with in the toolkits you should refer to the full HMRC guidance.

Find HMRC reference material and publications

Each toolkit will be updated each year to reflect any changes arising from the relevant Finance Act, where applicable, and released for use with that year’s returns.

Where there are changes to legislation, the toolkits provide a brief summary of those changes. The types of error that may arise from new legislation will not be immediately apparent, but if HMRC encounters particular areas of common error, they will seek to address these errors by releasing an updated version.

HMRC’s guidance is updated regularly. There will however be occasions when the draft guidance has not yet been published. Where that is the case, the toolkits provide a link to the latest publication available on the HMRC website. The toolkits do not cover tax avoidance or deliberate attempts to evade tax, which are outside the scope of the toolkits and are subject to HMRC’s normal compliance procedures.

Taking reasonable care

Under the penalty legislation, there will not be a penalty for an error in a return or other document where the person has taken reasonable care that the return or document is accurate. As part of their efforts to take reasonable care, a person may seek professional advice and may appoint an agent to help them.

Where a person appoints an agent, this does not relieve them of their responsibility for their tax affairs. They still have a duty to take reasonable care, within their ability and competence, and this includes the person taking reasonable care to avoid inaccuracy by their agent.

Further guidance on reasonable care

The aim of these toolkits is to highlight errors which HMRC finds commonly occur and to help you avoid inaccuracies in your clients’ returns that may otherwise lead to penalties. Their use remains entirely voluntary. Whether reasonable care has been taken in any particular case will be a question of fact and will not depend on whether a toolkit has or has not been used.

Further guidance on penalties where an agent is acting

Find more information on understanding penalties

Giving HMRC feedback on toolkits

HMRC would like to hear about your experience of using the toolkits to help develop and prioritise future changes and improvements. HMRC is also interested in your views of any recent interactions you may have had with the department.

Send HMRC your feedback

Further information

Find previous versions of toolkits to help reduce errors

Get more information from Agent Account Managers about using toolkits

Trusts and estates

  1. HMRC Capital Gains Tax for trusts and estates supplementary toolkit

    • Guidance
  2. HMRC trusts and estates toolkit

    • Guidance
  3. HMRC Inheritance Tax toolkit

    • Guidance