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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: rules that apply to all notices: notices to banks about their customers: opportunity letters

The confidential nature of the relationship between banks and their customers means that documents will not be produced without an information notice. See CH23100 for guidance on whether this should be taxpayer approved or tribunal approved.

The opportunity letter at CH232400 should be issued to the bank where you intend seeking tribunal approval for the issue of the third party notice under FA08/Sch36. If you are proposing to send an excise information notice, see the specimen opportunity letter at CHApp2.9 (Word 30KB).

Receipt of the opportunity letter may prompt the bank to contact you to discuss the wording of the notice. You should normally agree to their proposals where these are reasonable.

Opportunity letters and information notices should be sent to the appropriate central address of the bank concerned, where one has been provided, see CH232600. A statement from the bank to the effect that it does not have the required documents is a sufficient answer to either an opportunity letter or an information notice.

Where one banking company operates under several brands, notices must be confined to requests for documents from a particular banking entity. You must have some evidence that the person is a customer of the bank, and you must not use the notice to find out whether that is the case. But you do not need to identify every account in the notice, nor do you need to identify each branch at which an account is held.

An information notice should not normally be issued any earlier than 30 days after the bank has received the opportunity letter. Exceptionally, if a shorter period is required, you must obtain prior approval from Central Policy, Tax Administration Advice. Fraud Investigation Service (FIS), Specialist Personal Tax (SPT), Counter-Avoidance (CA) and Large Business (LB) have their own arrangements for giving approval.