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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: identity unknown notice: approval

Only an authorised officer, see CH260000, can issue an identity unknown notice.

An identity unknown notice can normally only be considered where there are reasonable grounds for believing that failure by a person or persons unknown to comply with the tax law may seriously prejudice the assessment or collection of tax.

CH262500 explains the authorisation levels required for an application to the tribunal for approval of an identity unknown notice.

There are, however, four exceptions to this rule. The failure to comply and serious prejudice rules do not apply and the tribunal does not need to approve the issue of an identity unknown notice.

  1. Given to a parent undertaking to check the tax position of one or more subsidiary undertakings, see CH23940, or
  2. Given to a partner, for the purpose of checking the tax position of one or more other partners in their capacity as such, see CH23960, or
  3. Given to an involved third party requiring only relevant information or documents for the purpose of checking the tax position of a person or class of persons, see CH23980, or
  4. Given to any person if it refers only to information or documents that relate to any pensions matter, see CH23990.

Unlike a third party notice, you do not have to tell the person beforehand that the information or documents are required and you do not have to give them an opportunity to make representations. However, best practice will be to issue a non-statutory opportunity letter to which the protection FA08/SCH36/PARA43 would apply. The response you receive, including no response at all, may help you in answering questions from the tribunal, especially about onerousness and the availability of the information. It may also help you to improve the drafting of the notice.

An Identity Unknown Notice for issue after approval and signature by a tribunal member is at CHApp1.8 (Word 42KB).