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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Restrictions: Old documents

Normally you will not need to see a document that was entirely created more than six years ago. Such an old document would normally be expected to only affect a tax position that can no longer be changed because the assessment time limit has expired.

However, you may need to see an old document because it affects the tax position of a later period. For example, when checking a chargeable gain calculation you may need to see the purchase agreement for the asset in question in order to check the cost figure used in the calculation.

You may also need to see an old document where you have reasonable grounds to suspect that there may have been a deliberate error in a return which means that the assessment time limit could be extended to 20 years.

You can only require a person to produce a document that was entirely created more than six years ago if you have the prior agreement of an authorised officer, see CH21720.

Sometimes a document may have entries made in earlier periods as well as the period for which you are checking the tax position. The person must produce the document even though part of it is more than six years old.

For example

The first entry in a cash book is eight years old and the last is only three years old and relates to the period you are checking. You can require the person to produce it without the agreement of an authorised officer.

You believe all the entries in a cash book to be seven years old. You will need the agreement of an authorised officer before you can require the person to produce it.

In these examples, your belief is a good guide, but it is not the final test. Documents which are in fact more than 6 years old require a notice issued with the agreement of an authorised officer, even if you genuinely believed that the documents were more recent when you issued the original notice. A person will not have failed to comply with an information notice (or a requirement in a notice) if

  • the information notice was issued without the agreement of an authorised officer, and
  • they do not produce a document that is more than 6 years old.

Note: Where you are sending a third party notice or an identity unknown notice for information or documents relating to ‘qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes’ (QROPS), or former QROPS, the 6 year restriction is extended to 10 years, see CH23840 and CH23990.

FA08/SCH36/PARA20

CEMA79/S118BA