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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: When will the powers be used

Information and inspection powers in Schedule 36 FA 2008
Information and inspection powers for excise

Information and inspection powers in Schedule 36 FA 2008

The information and inspection powers introduced by Schedule 36 Finance Act 2008 replace the separate powers that previously applied to UK taxes, see CH21050.

We may need extra information or to carry out an inspection in order to check a person’s tax position. The vast majority of people co-operate with our requests. This collaborative approach enables us to check the person’s tax position quickly and effectively. We want this way of working to continue, so our normal approach is always to ask first. We will use our legal powers only where a person does not co-operate with our requests for information or documents, or refuses us access to premises.

However, we are not obliged to make an informal request. We may decide to use our legal powers straight away where we have good reason to believe it will be more effective or efficient to do so. For example, we might not make an informal request where there is a history of non-cooperation or where tax evasion is a feature of the case.

We might also not make an informal request to obtain information from third parties, even where a person is co-operating fully and tax evasion is not suspected. This may be because we have the person’s approval to issue a notice or perhaps there is no informal way of obtaining the information. For example, there may be confidentiality or Data Protection issues for the third party.

Our legal powers do not give us the right to see every document, see CH22100, or to enter all premises, see CH25180. However, a person may temporarily set aside their legal rights to provide us with documents which we could not require, or to allow us to enter their private residence so that we can quickly and efficiently resolve our concerns. You should explain clearly to the person that this decision is voluntary. You should never put any pressure on the person to agree.

Examples

We do not have the legal power to enter a person’s home that is used solely as a dwelling, see CH25220, but we can do so if we are invited. It may be more convenient for the person if we visit them at home and it would be wrong to refuse just because we have no legal power of entry.

We do not have the power to require legally privileged documents, see CH22240, but the person may be willing to share them with us. You should not refuse the person’s offer.

In these circumstances you should make it clear to the person that we do not have the legal power to otherwise visit the premises or see the documents.

Information and inspection powers for excise

The inspection powers in Schedule 36 do not apply to excise checks on revenue traders. (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)

Section 118BA of CEMA provides for an excise information notice to be issued to any person. The purpose is to obtain documents and/or information from a third party, that is, not a ‘revenue trader’ as defined in CEMA to control excise goods. Limited provisions from Schedule 36 apply to excise information notices from 1 April 2011. See CH22500.