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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

Opening and Working Enquiries: Information powers - meaning of "information or evidence"

The terms “information or evidence” have their normal, every day meanings. Information, in particular, is potentially very wide: it may include not only items that already exist, but also those which you ask the customer(s) to create.

Example: You may ask for a written explanation of the reasons for an ex-married couple still living in the marital home: this will be information. But if, to test the explanation that the couple had been unable to sell the home, you asked to see any correspondence with the estate agents, this would be evidence.

As a general rule, evidence will consist of documents that already exist, while information can include explanations, analyses etc. The statute does not allow the customer to provide copies of evidence, so you can insist on original documents being provided, if appropriate.

Note that evidence does not have its common legal meaning of verbal evidence, i.e. you cannot require the customer(s) to give evidence as if they were in a court of law. In practice there is no need to classify the details you require as either “information” or “evidence”, and you should avoid doing so.