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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: during a visit: failure to allow an inspection

Whilst an officer of HMRC has inspection powers enabling them to enter and inspect business premises, the person or occupier also has the right to refuse entry to those premises or to terminate the visit at any time.

However, if the inspection has been approved by the tribunal, deliberate obstruction of an officer may result in a penalty assessment.

You must not use force or subterfuge to gain entry. It’s possible that if you explain why the compliance check is being done and what it will involve the person or occupier may allow the inspection. Ensure that you take the relevant factsheet with you that will explain the person’s rights and obligations.

If you are refused entry or asked to leave during an inspection you should follow the guidance below.

Visits not approved by the tribunal

If you are refused entry to the premises, or you are asked to leave before you have finished your inspection, you should attempt to arrange another visit.

If the person refuses to agree to a visit on another date or entry is denied at a subsequent visit attempt, you should record details of the date and time, the person making the refusal and their status, if known, and any comments made and explanation given.

If non-cooperation continues, you may consider seeking tribunal approval for an inspection. If you think this is necessary, you should discuss it with your team leader or manager who may agree to put a proposal to an authorised officer.

Template IT01_IT02 in SEES Forms and Letters is available for you to make your report to an authorised officer. The authorised officer uses the same template to reply.

Visits approved by the tribunal

If the person or occupier has a reasonable excuse for failing to allow the visit, you should re-arrange the visit by agreement or by obtaining another tribunal-approved inspection notice.

If the person does not have a reasonable excuse, you should draw the person’s attention to the inspection notice which advises that obstruction of your inspection may lead to the imposition of a penalty of £300 and, that if the obstruction continues, a daily penalty of up to £60 a day see CH270000.