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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Dishonest tax agents: penalty for dishonest conduct: disclosure: helping

Helping includes

  • giving reasonable help in providing details of the dishonest conduct
  • positive assistance as opposed to passive acceptance or obstruction
  • actively engaging in the work to accurately quantify the tax liability of the affected clients, and
  • volunteering any information relevant to the disclosure.

In considering whether a person has given reasonable help, you should always take account of the abilities and circumstances of the person.

What is important is the timing, nature and extent of the help the person gives in providing details of the dishonest conduct.

  • The timing is relevant to the period from the time of the wrongdoing to the date of disclosure. As well as there not being any avoidable delays there should be an active approach, providing information and assistance as early as possible. 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 covers whether the help is useful and saves you time and effort in quantifying the tax liability of the affected clients. For the person to just appear to be helpful but not actually produce anything of use is not what is required.
  • The extent of the help covers the whole period of the dishonest conduct from start to finish and all aspects of the dishonest conduct. If help is only received for part of the period or in certain aspects you have regard to this when you determine the quality of disclosure.

Overall, helping you to identify the extent of dishonest conduct must be as active as possible.

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