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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

How to do a compliance check: records: penalties for failure to keep records: introduction

When you carry out a compliance check you may find that the person has failed to keep or retain records. In some circumstances it is possible for you to charge a penalty for the person’s failure.

The penalty provisions are in the relevant tax legislation.

The extent of the person’s failure may range from a failure to keep records that would ensure that a tax return is correct in every respect to the deliberate destruction of records that were the subject of an information notice. Whatever action you decide to take should be proportionate and appropriate to the person’s behaviour.

If, on starting your check of a business that is run by a person on their own, you find that the person has died after a period of illness, you should take this factor into account when considering record keeping standards. Penalties for keeping inadequate records will not be appropriate.

Guidance on dealing with record-keeping failures is at

EM4650 for IT, CT and CGT

SACM4020 for claims not included in a return

VCP11133 for VAT

IPT09250 for insurance premium tax

AGL8100 for aggregates levy

CCLG15455 for climate change levy

LFT19080 for landfill tax

CH12600 for stamp duty land tax

HCOS4250 for hydrocarbon oils

APD5000 for air passenger duty

Excise Civil Penalties (ECP) for other excise duties.

There are no penalties for failure to keep or retain PAYE/NICs or CIS records.