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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Information & Inspection Powers: Information Notices: approval of the information notice

The level and type of approval needed before an information notice is given to a person depends on the kind of check that is being carried out and the circumstances being checked. Operational guidance about authorisation levels starts at CH260000.

Follow these links for more detail.

Taxpayer notice
Third party notice
Identity unknown notice
Identification notice

Taxpayer notice

An officer appointed to carry out a compliance check, for example to check the person’s latest tax return, can issue a taxpayer notice to the person to gather information they reasonably require to check the tax position of that person. No separate approval is needed before the notice is issued. However, if the officer needs to ask for an old document the agreement of an authorised officer is needed, see CH22140. Where the officer thinks the approval of the tribunal is appropriate before issuing the notice, see CH24120, they will need the agreement of an authorised officer.

The process for getting approval of the tribunal is described in CH24100.

Third party notice

Where an officer thinks it necessary to gather information by using a third party notice, the officer must have the approval of

  • the person whose tax position is being checked, or
  • the tribunal

before the notice can be issued. The process for getting approval of the tribunal is described in CH24160.

There are variations to this rule in some circumstances, see below.

Where the third party notice is given to a partner for the purpose of checking the tax position of one or more other partners (in their capacity as such), see CH23720, there is no need to obtain the approval of either

  • the partner whose tax position is being checked, or
  • the tribunal.

Similarly, if the third party notice is given to a parent company for the purpose of checking the tax position of more than one of its subsidiaries, see CH23780, there is no need to obtain the approval of either

  • the subsidiary whose tax position is being checked, or
  • the tribunal.

If the third party notice is given to an involved third party, see CH25360, for the purpose of checking the tax position of a person, there is no need to obtain the approval of either

  • the person whose tax position is being checked, or
  • the tribunal.

A third party notice can only be given to an involved third party in the period from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2012. On or after 1 April 2012 the authority to obtain relevant information from involved third parties falls under Schedule 23 to FA 2011, see CH28000+.

If the third party notice is given to any person and it refers only to information or documents that relate to any pensions matter, see CH23990, there is no need to obtain the approval of either

  • the person whose tax position is being checked, or
  • the tribunal.

You do not need any approval at all before giving a third party notice that refers only to information or documents that form part of any person’s statutory records, see CH21700, relating to

  • the supply of goods or services
  • the acquisition of goods from another EU member state, or
  • the importation of goods from a place outside the member states in the course of carrying on a business.

Identity unknown notice

Only an authorised officer can issue an identity unknown notice. Usually this also needs the approval of the tribunal, see CH24200.

It isn’t necessary to obtain the approval of the tribunal where the identity unknown notice is given to

  • a partner for the purpose of checking the tax position of one or more other partners (in their capacity as such) whose identity is unknown, or
  • a parent undertaking for the purpose of checking the tax position of one or more unknown subsidiary undertakings, or
  • an involved third party, in the period from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2012, for the purpose of checking the tax position of a person or a class of persons regarding a relevant tax where the notice refers only to relevant information or relevant documents, see CH25360, or
  • any person and the notice only refers to information or documents that relate to any pensions matter, see CH23990.

Identification notice

An authorised officer can issue an identification notice to a third party for the purpose of checking the tax position of a person or class of persons where we do not know the identity of the person but we hold information that will enable the person’s identity to be ascertained. This means that we hold some information from which somebody else can tell us the identity of the person.

The ‘relevant information’ required by the third party must be reasonably required by the officer for the purpose of checking the tax position of the person, and that tax position must be for a tax to which Schedule 36 applies, see CH21540.

The authorised officer must then have reason to believe that

  • the third party will be able to ascertain the person’s identity from the information held by the officer, and
  • the third party had obtained the information about the person in the course of carrying on a business.

The authorised officer cannot issue an identification notice where the person’s identity can be readily ascertained by other means available to the officer.

Issuing this type of notice does not need the approval of the tribunal. This is because these types of notice are designed to allow HMRC to comply promptly with international requests for information. These notices can be used in other circumstances, but only where their use is proportionate and justified.

FA08/SCH36/PARA3

FA08/SCH36/PARA34

FA08/SCH36/PARA5

FA08/SCH36/PARA5A

FA08/SCH36/PARA34B