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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
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Dishonest tax agents: penalty for dishonest conduct: disclosure: telling

Telling includes

  • admitting the conduct
  • disclosing the extent of the conduct
  • explaining how and why the conduct occurred, and
  • disclosing the existence of any relevant documents.

There are no restrictions on how the person can make a disclosure. The important point is the disclosure, not how they make the disclosure. The person can tell you by phone, in person, by letter or by email.

  • What is important is how long it takes for the tax agent to complete the telling, especially once the tribunal has ruled that their conduct is dishonest. Where a person has taken a significant period to correct their non-compliance, or, they would previously have been able to make their disclosure through one of HMRC’s offshore facilities they can no longer expect HMRC to agree full reduction for disclosure. In such cases it is unlikely that HMRC would reduce the penalty more than 10 percentage points above the minimum of the statutory range.  For this purpose we would normally consider a ‘significant period’ to be over three years or less where the overall disclosure covers a longer period.
  • The nature of the telling covers why the dishonest conduct occurred.

The person needs to tell us voluntarily about all the circumstances and everything they know about what led to their dishonest conduct and not just react passively to our questions. Answering all our questions fully may however be sufficient to tell us everything we need to know about their dishonest conduct, or all the person is capable of, after taking into account their abilities and circumstances.

  • The extent of the telling is whether everything is disclosed to us. If the person makes only a partial disclosure then this will be reflected in the quality of disclosure and amount of penalty assessed.

There is an overlap here with ‘helping’, see CH184400, a disclosure that makes no reference to the scale of the dishonest conduct is not a complete disclosure.

FA12/SCH38/PARA26 (3) - (7)