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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Restrictions: Exceptions for auditors' and tax advisers' papers

The protection given to auditors, see CH22280, and tax advisers, see CH22300, does not apply in certain circumstances. These are where

  • the auditor or tax adviser has helped the person in the preparation or delivery of accounts, returns or other information or documents sent to HMRC, and
  • the papers explain the accounts, returns or other information or documents given to HMRC.

In these circumstances, you are entitled to have access to the protected information to the extent necessary to get the explanation you seek.

This exception allows you to obtain information showing how a particular entry was arrived at. You cannot obtain information showing why the entry was arrived at in a particular way. For example, a detailed calculation of a ‘sum of digits’ valuation used in a tax return could be obtained from the tax adviser but not correspondence showing why the ‘sum of digits’ method was chosen over alternative valuation methods.

The protection still applies if the explanatory information has previously been provided to HMRC.

Where a document contains both the explanatory information you are seeking and other information, the auditor or tax adviser can choose to provide you with a copy of the part of the document which is not protected. The original document must be made available for you to inspect if you need to do so, see CH23480. If the auditor or tax adviser wishes the protected parts may be kept covered up at this inspection.

FA08/SCH36/PARA26 & 27