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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: What we can require or inspect: Statutory records

Information or a document forms part of a person’s statutory records if it is information or a document which the person is required to keep and preserve by the Taxes Acts or by any other legislation relating to the taxes in CH21540. Information and documents cease to be a person’s statutory records when the period for which they must be preserved has expired. You will find more information in the Record keeping guidance starting at CH10000.

Business records

Business and VAT records that have to be kept for tax purposes become statutory records when they are created. This means that current records can be inspected where inspection is justified.

Non-business records

Any other records which must be kept for tax purposes only become statutory records after the end of the chargeable period to which they relate. This means that you do not have the right to inspect these records during the chargeable period(s) because they will never fall within the definition of business documents, see CH25280. You may be able to require production of these records using a written notice, see CH23220.


You should try to resolve any dispute about whether or not a document is a statutory record by agreement. If that is not possible it must be resolved by the tribunal on appeal against either

  • the notice itself if there are appeal rights against the particular notice, or
  • a penalty assessment issued because the person did not comply with the notice where there are no appeal rights.

If there are no appeal rights against the notice (or requirement in it) a challenge about whether information or a document is within statutory records can also be made through an application for judicial review.

CH24300 onwards gives guidance about appeals against information notices.

Note that if your compliance check is into an excise duty, you will use powers under CEMA79. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)