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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Restrictions: Personal records: Head office contact

Before you seek any documents that may contain an individual’s welfare details, you must contact Tax, Administration, Litigation and Advice (TALA). For example you may wish to use information powers to make progress in a check of a medical professional’s tax position.

You must consider carefully the sensitivity of the welfare information that may be contained in the documents you wish to see. You should ask for them to be produced only if there is no other effective way in which to complete the check.

You should consult TALA as early as possible in the process of requiring access to documents that may contain welfare information. When contacting TALA please have available

  • a brief background to the compliance check
  • what other steps have been taken to establish the correct tax position
  • why the documents are vital to your enquiry, and
  • an indication of the potential amounts at stake.

TALA may ask you to submit the case papers but this will not always be necessary.

Any welfare information you receive or see may not be used for any purpose other than the enquiry into the professional’s tax position.

For example

Access to patient record cards (or any other documents containing welfare information) may be necessary where

* there is reason to believe that fees earned and received have been omitted from a return. For example, you may have discovered weaknesses in the books and records that may have led to an understatement of fees, and
* it has been established that the patient record cards are prime income records of the practice and the way in which they are used by the business, and
* it has been established that the patient record cards are the most effective way of working out the true amount of liability.

Appointments diaries or other records which merely name the patient/client are not ‘personal records’.