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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: general: working with agents

Agents play a vital role in helping our customers understand and meet their tax obligations. A customer’s agent can be a paid adviser or from the voluntary sector, such as TaxAid, or their relative. However, the customer is still responsible for giving us accurate information and they should make sure their agent has all the relevant facts.

Our customers’ affairs are confidential, so you need authority from them before you can talk to or write to their agent.

Where the customer has mentioned a disability please see COG11340.

Form 64-8 is normally used when there is a paid tax adviser. Customers do not have to use form 64-8 to notify us that an agent is acting for them. While the authorisation must be in writing, they can put the details in a letter. The letter should contain all the details set out on form 64-8 and, in particular, in what capacity the agent is acting.

In addition, a Temporary Authorisation of Tax Adviser form Comp1 enables customers to appoint a temporary tax adviser to deal with their tax affairs in relation to a compliance check, see CH201550.

Some agents can be authorised to act in respect of one tax but not others. If you are involved in cross tax work you should tell the agent that we are conducting a cross tax compliance check, which includes the tax that they are authorised to deal with, without providing specific details of the taxes they are not authorised to deal with.

Should you have any concerns about whether or not you can disclose information to a customer’s agent, see IDG30400.

You should refer to existing guidance for the type of compliance check you are carrying out to see when and to what extent you should involve the agent in your check.

Where you suspect that a tax agent has engaged in dishonest conduct, see technical guidance starting at CH180000 and operational guidance starting at CH880000. Where you identify other types of poor agent behaviour, see CH800000.