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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: excise information notice: considerations prior to issue

The power to give an information notice under CEMA79/S118BA is potentially intrusive and burdensome. Before you issue a notice you should consider whether your action is necessary.

Although a person may make representations to the tribunal they do not have a right of appeal against the notice.

Any notice is likely to impose a burden on the recipient in terms of time and costs. You should consider carefully what information you need and go no wider with your request. What you ask for should be reasonable and proportionate compared with your check.

If there is another way to get the information you reasonably require to complete your compliance check then you should not issue an information notice.

Things you might consider are

Asking informally for the information

It may be that a person who has information that you require will give it to you voluntarily.

Do not take this approach with banks, however, as they will require a formal notice in order to give you the information.

If a person asks you to issue a formal notice before they will give you what you require then you should do so.

A first party may be able to get what you require from a third party. Don’t issue a notice to the third party without asking the first party if they can get the information unless it is impractical to do this.

For example, it might be impractical to ask a first party to approach a third party if you suspect that there will be collusion, or you will receive only some of the information you require. In these cases you should issue a notice to the third party.

Where a third party’s taxation affairs are dealt with by Large Business Service, HMRC will have allocated to it a Customer Compliance Manager (CCM). You will find the CCM contact number under ‘Useful Contacts’ on the LBS Home page.

You must talk to the CCM, if there is one, before issuing the notice so they can consider any potential issues.

This does not apply to notices to banks for information about an individual customer, where the banks are covered by HMRC’s arrangements with the British Bankers Association (BBA), see CH232000. Banks may however ask you to liaise with the CCM, or may contact the CCM themselves, in connection with a notice that raises particular issues for them.

Using another power

If the information or documents you require can be obtained from a revenue trader then you should use your powers under CEMA79/S118B.