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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: excise information notice: what you can ask for

You can use an information notice to require a person to provide documents if they are reasonably required by you for the purpose of protecting, securing, collecting or managing excise duties.

Documents can only be reasonably required where they are for the purpose set out above. If having the documents is not for that purpose it is not reasonable to require them. The key test is whether the documents are reasonably required for the purpose set out above, not whether they affect the excise duty payable or repayable. There is more guidance about what is reasonably required at CH21620.

You cannot use an excise information notice under CEMA79/S118BA for any other purpose than to check excise duties. If the documents you require are for the purposes of checking a person’s tax position, as it relates to another tax or duty, for example landfill tax, you must use powers under FA08/Sch36.

Before you ask for documents in a notice you must have reasonable cause to believe that the person is in possession or control of them. You do not have to prove that they have the documents, but if you haven’t got a reasonable cause to believe they have the tribunal will not approve the notice.

If, after you have issued the notice, it turns out that the documents are not in the person’s possession or control, and they do not have the power to get them, then they will not have failed to comply with the notice, see CH22120.