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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

How to do a compliance check: general: the Human Rights Act, Disability Discrimination Acts and other safeguards

There are safeguards to ensure that we act reasonably and that any action we take

  • is appropriate to the circumstances
  • does not infringe a person’s rights under the Human Rights Act, see CH21300 and
  • is consistent with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

Your actions whilst carrying out compliance checks must be reasonable, proportionate and respect the law and the person’s human rights.

If you are using powers under FA08/Sch36 the information and documents you ask for must be reasonably required for the express purpose of checking a person’s tax position and for that purpose alone.

If you are using powers under CEMA79/S118BA (excise powers) the information and documents you ask for must be reasonably required for the purpose of protecting, securing, collecting or managing revenues derived from duties of excise.

Officers must complete the required training to the required standard before using any of the powers described in this guidance.

Use of information and inspection powers frequently requires some level of authorisation and you must never use these powers without the necessary authorisation.

General behaviour

You must be considerate and polite at all times, see COG11000 Our Conduct and Behaviour.

You must act in accordance with HMRC guidance.

You should carry out your duties in a professional manner, respecting confidentiality and privacy. You should be discreet when on visits or at meetings. Bear in mind people will not usually wish to discuss their tax affairs in front of their staff, customers, other persons or their family.

At the start of your check you should have an open mind as to whether the correct amount of tax or duty has been paid.

You should have in the front of your mind HMRC’s commitment to reduce the administrative burden of compliance activity on a person and be customer focussed at all times.

You should be willing to work with a properly appointed tax agent.

HMRC have a duty under the Disability Discrimination Acts to make sure that customers with disabilities are not disadvantaged, see COG11300.

When you decide to carry out a compliance check you should always prompt the customer to let you know if there is anything about their health or personal circumstances that may make it difficult for them to manage their tax affairs.

This will mean that you can take their disability into account when planning a compliance check, see COG11345.

If you know at the start of your check, or you become aware during your check, that a person has particular needs then you should make any reasonable adjustments they require to make sure they are not treated less favourably than any other person, because they are disabled, see COG11340.

When is someone responsible for their own tax affairs?

People with disabilities and young people are personally responsible for their own tax obligations and liable for any tax that they are due to pay in the same way as any other customer.

They can appoint a representative such as an agent, friend or relative to act for them but that person must have legal authority to do so for example, by use of the 64-8 consent form, Comp1 or by use of a Power of Attorney see CH201500.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Holding a meeting with a person under 18 about their tax affairs?

A responsible adult must be present when holding a meeting to discuss the tax affairs of a person under the age of 18. Examples of the responsible adult’s duties may include:

  • supporting the customer
  • helping with communication
  • acting as an agent.

You must have the person’s consent for the responsible adult to be present when their personal tax information is being discussed. When obtaining written consent is not practical you should record in the meeting notes that the customer has given verbal consent for the responsible adult to be present.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

You must contact the FOI Team if you receive any of the following:

  • an FOI request
  • a complaint about or an appeal on non-disclosure of information under the Act
  • any correspondence from the Information Commissioner relating to an FOI request
  • any request for an internal review of a decision not to disclose information.

Safeguarding Children {.filledcircle}

If you witness, become aware of or suspect child abuse whilst on official HMRC business you must follow the guidance on safeguarding children.