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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Dishonest tax agents: file access notice: power to access tax agent's files - examples

The following are examples of when we are able to access a tax agent’s files.

Example 1. Conduct notice has been issued
Example 2. Conduct notice has not been issued 

Example 1. Conduct notice has been issued

Mr Delaware is a tax agent. An enquiry into one of Mr Delaware’s clients prompted us to issue Mr Delaware with a conduct notice, dated 30 August 2015.

On 1 December 2015, once we were sure that we had not received an appeal, we issued Mr Delaware with a file access notice to request records that would help us determine the extent of his dishonest conduct.

Based on the information that was already available to us, we made the file access notice require documents and information back five years. Although three of those years related to before 1 April 2013, we required that information to determine the extent of the dishonest conduct and correct Mr Delaware’s clients tax affairs, not to use that information to calculate any penalty for dishonest conduct on Mr Delaware.

If the dishonest conduct was occurring at the start of those five years, we can issue a further file access notice to request earlier documents and information.

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Example 2. Conduct notice has not been issued

Mrs West was a tax agent up to three years ago. At that time she retired and sold her accounting business. We have not issued Mrs West with a conduct notice but would like to see her working papers relating to when she was a tax agent. An enquiry into one of her former clients prompted our interest in her working papers.

In 2012, Mrs West was prosecuted for tax evasion in her personal returns. Mrs West did not appeal against the conviction. It is less than 12 months since her appeal rights to that conviction expired.

Although we have not issued Mrs West with a conduct notice, we can still issue her with a file access notice because of her conviction for an offence that related to tax and involved fraud or dishonesty. If Mrs West no longer has the relevant documents we can seek them from another document holder who does.

FA12/SCH38/PARA7