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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: authorised officer: introduction and scope

This section of the guidance looks at the functions and responsibilities of an authorised officer. Some of the information and inspection powers can only be used by, or with the agreement of, an authorised officer. It also looks at the part you must play in getting agreement for your proposed use of these particular information, data-gathering and inspection powers.

It is mandatory to get the agreement of an authorised officer before you can use certain powers. These particular powers either do not have a right of appeal, or they are potentially intrusive for the person.

You must have agreement from an authorised officer to

  • apply to the tribunal for approval to issue notices, see CH24120 
  • apply to the tribunal for approval to issue a third party notice, see CH24160
  • apply to the tribunal for approval to issue a third party notice and not to copy the notice to the person it concerns, see CH23660
  • issue a taxpayer or third party notice requiring documents more than 6 years old, see CH22140 
  • carry out an inspection without giving at least 7 days’ notice and without the person’s consent, see CH262400 
  • apply to the tribunal for agreement for an inspection of business premises, see CH262400.
  • apply to the tribunal to issue an identity unknown notice, where tribunal approval is required see CH262500 
  • issue an identification notice to a third party requiring them to provide ‘relevant information’ in respect of a person whose identity is not known to the officer, see CH227500.

The above instances are statutory requirements.

Additionally, HMRC has decided that you must obtain agreement from an authorised officer to

  • carry out an inspection at a person’s home, or where there is doubt about whether premises are wholly used privately, see CH254540
  • carry out covert activity, see CH207500 
  • issue a penalty for deliberately obstructing a tribunal-approved inspection, see CH270100
  • issue an information notice for an accountant’s working papers, see CH231400 
  • apply to the Upper Tribunal to impose a tax-related penalty, see CH270400 
  • request information under the tax cooperation agreement between the UK and the Swiss tax authorities, see CH207350.