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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Meaning of 'carrying on a business'

‘Carrying on a business’ takes its normal everyday meaning. For inspection purposes, it therefore includes

  • any trade, profession or undertaking by a person alone or in partnership
  • some activities of some charities (any body of persons or trust established for charitable purposes only), for example trading through high street shops
  • the letting of property either as dwellings or to other businesses or any combination of the two
  • any public authority including Government department, local authority or local authority association, or
  • any entity that is required to be or is registered for VAT under any schedule to the VAT Act 1994.

However, there may be occasions where there is doubt about whether or not an activity is a business. This is important because we can only inspect premises that are business premises (except where we are making a valuation etc inspection, see CH25380).

HMRC can make regulations to further define what is or is not to be treated as carrying on a business for inspection purposes. The regulations may also specify that particular persons carrying on an activity are, or are not, to be treated as carrying on a business for inspection purposes. At present there are no such regulations.