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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: rules that apply to all notices: accountants’ working papers: formal procedures

Review of Case

If you consider that FA08/Sch36 powers should be used, make a report to your line manager giving

  • the background to the compliance check
  • the reasons why you want access to the working papers and
  • an account of your efforts to get the required information from other sources and to persuade the accountant to give you voluntary access.

If your manager decides that formal action is required, he or she should refer the papers to an authorised officer, see CH260500.

Sometimes the authorised officer will be your manager, in which case you should provide them with the information set out above within a report along the lines of CH260500.

Where the check is into excise duties and you propose to issue an excise information notice under CEMA/S118BA, see CH228500.

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An authorised officer for FA08/Sch36, or a manager for CEMA/S118BA, should consider whether the information requested is necessary to advance the case and whether it might be obtained by other means. They should only give agreement for the use of information powers if they are satisfied that all alternative avenues have been explored.

The formal procedures should not be commenced without prior written approval.

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Documents Already Delivered

Audit papers or relevant communications which also contain linking information are protected by FA08/Sch36/Para26(3), if that information is contained in some other document, and either

  • that other document, or a copy of it, has been delivered to the officer or HMRC or
  • that other document has been inspected by an officer of HMRC.

If a claim is made that the required information is contained in other documents which have already been delivered to or inspected by HMRC, find out to whom the documents were delivered or by whom they were inspected and obtain copies or extracts. If you are unable to verify that the documents were delivered or inspected submit your file, with a brief report, to (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) before you start formal procedures.

If you encounter difficulties in any of the following areas

  • obtaining agreement as to what constitutes an accountant’s link documents
  • obtaining access to an accountant’s link documents
  • examining any working papers received from an accountant

you should obtain assistance from an HMRC Compliance Accountant. Refer to contact details provided in the Accountants’ website.

In more complex cases assistance can be obtained from the Finance Professionals Unit.