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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: Tax advisers' papers

As a general rule, you cannot require a tax adviser (including a voluntary sector adviser) to provide information or produce documents that belong to the adviser if the purpose of the information or documents was to give or get advice about another person’s (usually a client’s) tax affairs.

A tax adviser is a person appointed to give advice about the tax affairs of another person. It does not matter whether the tax adviser is appointed by that other person or by another tax adviser of that person.

The protected information or documents are called ‘relevant communications’, see CH22320.

The protection only applies when you give a notice to a tax adviser. It does not apply when you give a notice to the person whose tax position is being checked. However, the advice that a person has received from their tax adviser is not usually something that is reasonably required to check the tax position. We can normally come to our own conclusions based on the relevant facts.

Where you feel that you need to get details of the advice that a person has received from their adviser, contact Central Policy, Tax Administration Advice before taking any action.

Client confidentiality

An adviser may refuse to comply with a notice on the grounds that it would breach client confidentiality. There is no exemption from an information notice on the grounds of confidentiality alone, but you may need to reconsider the application of Article 8 in the light of representations made to you, see CH21340.

Where information is withheld about clients other than the person whose tax position is being checked, perhaps through some form of editing (redaction), see CH23320.

There are circumstances where a tax adviser can be required to provide information or produce documents that would otherwise be protected, see CH22340.

FA08/SCH36/PARA25
CEMA79/S118BA