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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Who will use the powers

Most information and inspection powers can be used by any officer of Revenue and Customs.

An officer of Revenue and Customs is a member of staff appointed by Her Majesty’s Commissioners for Revenue and Customs. Officers must comply with directions of Her Majesty’s Commissioners which means they must follow guidance given to them by HMRC.

The Human Rights Act, see CH21310, the right of appeal and external oversight by the tribunal provide safeguards against inappropriate use of HMRC powers by officers.

Some officers will find that the information and inspection powers in Schedule 36 FA 2008 will very closely resemble previous powers.

You must not attempt to use powers in which you have not been trained.

This is to ensure that the rights of both the person and HMRC are not unnecessarily compromised, and that their compliance burdens are not unnecessarily increased.

Some powers can only be used by an authorised officer, see CH21720.

An authorised officer will

  • have practical experience in the use of information and inspection powers
  • have the ability to stand back and reach a fresh view
  • scrutinise with care reports from the officer who seeks a notice, and
  • be satisfied that the proposed notice or action is appropriate and proportionate to the tax risks posed.

Authorised officers have a responsibility to ensure consistent standards in the use of HMRC powers.