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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Penalties: When is a penalty chargeable: Concealing, destroying or disposing of a document

A person receiving an information notice must not

  • destroy or hide any document covered by it, or
  • arrange for someone else to destroy or hide any document covered by it.

Once you tell a person that a document is, or is likely, to be included in a future information notice, that document must not be destroyed or hidden. Usually you will have told the person in writing that you may include a document in an information notice. But if not, you should create and retain a written record of how and when you told the person and provide them with a copy of it.

Unless they are otherwise obliged to retain it, for example under some other statutory requirement, a person may destroy a document

  • that has been produced to you following an information notice, unless you have advised them in writing that it must be kept for further inspection. If you decide at a later date that the original document need no longer be kept you must tell the person, or
  • more than 6 months have passed since you last notified them that the document may be included in an information notice and it has not been included in a notice, or
  • more than 6 months have passed since they produced a copy of the document in response to an information notice and you have not asked them in writing to produce the original.

It is therefore important that you ensure that you take prompt action if you need to prevent documents from being legitimately destroyed.

FA08/SCH36/PARA39 (3)