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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Dishonest tax agents: process if we find dishonest conduct

When we identify dishonest conduct by a tax agent we will

  • determine that the tax agent is engaging or has engaged in dishonest conduct
  • issue a conduct notice to notify the tax agent of our determination, which is subject to appeal and review rights
  • if necessary, issue a file access notice to access a tax agent’s working papers where dishonest conduct has been identified, or where the individual has been convicted of an offence relating to tax that involved fraud or dishonesty, and
  • once the extent of dishonest conduct has been determined, consider
  • charging a penalty for dishonest conduct, and
  • publishing the tax agent’s details.

We must have issued a conduct notice before we can charge a penalty for dishonest conduct. However, there may be times when we do not have to issue a file access notice.

There are potentially two types of penalty that can be charged:

  • penalties for failing to comply with a file access notice, and
  • a penalty for dishonest conduct.

Furthermore, a person can be prosecuted for concealing, destroying or otherwise disposing of material documents

  • after a conduct notice is given,
  • when a conduct notice is about to be given, or
  • after being issued with a file access notice.

We may publish the tax agent’s details where they have been charged a penalty for dishonest conduct of more than £5,000 and they did not make a full disclosure.