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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: records: reviewing records: business records

You must plan what records you intend to examine. The records you can expect to see will depend on the size of the business and what it does. You may need to ask questions to determine what records you want to see.

You are able to ask for any reports already available on a computer system to be run and downloaded.

Where records are held on computer you should consider the efficiencies offered by the application of electronic audit procedures. These will allow you to examine the underlying detail of tax returns by testing systems and controls on data down to transaction level. You should first ensure you understand the system processes and the data you need before requesting copies of records. You should determine at an early stage which specialist Departmental resources, such as Data Handling Specialists or the LBS Audit Service, are needed to download this data.

It may be impractical for a person to produce an original electronic document for some storage types, for example an internal hard drive, and a copy of the information may be produced instead.

However it may not be sufficient for a person to produce a printed copy of a document held electronically. You can, if you have reasonable grounds to do so, make a written request to the person to produce the original electronic document or an electronic copy. You do this by requiring the document to be ‘in such form’ as is reasonably specified or described in the information notice, CH23380.

If you encounter any difficulty with a request or requirement for the production of an original electronic document or copy, you should contact a Data Handling Specialist or an LBS Audit Specialist, who specialise in such matters.

You must treat any data given to you by a person or their representative in line with current data security guidelines.

Further information on what records to examine and how they can help you to do your compliance check can be found in the operational guidance manuals for each tax regime.