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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Penalties for Failure to File on Time: Calculating the penalty: Penalty reductions for disclosure: Telling

Telling includes

  • admitting that information has been deliberately withheld,
  • disclosing the information in full, and
  • explaining how and why the information was withheld.

What is important are the timing, nature and extent of the telling of the disclosure.

  • Timing should take into consideration how long it has taken someone to come forward to put their tax affairs in order. When the person tells you about an act or failure they must tell you all the facts at that time. However, where information going back several years is difficult to obtain, HMRC should take into account the effort put into, and the problems encountered, obtaining the information. In some instances the person may have to do very little to gain the full reduction for telling. Those who have taken a significant period to correct the position or would have previously been able to make their disclosure through one of HMRC’s offshore facilities can no longer expect HMRC to agree to full reductions for disclosure.  For this purpose we would normally consider a ‘significant period’ to be over three years or less where the overall disclosure covers a longer period.
  • The nature covers why the failure occurred. The person needs to show a positive approach to telling us about the circumstances that led to the failure, not just react to questions, unless this was clearly all that was required or all that the person was capable of, taking into account their abilities and circumstances.
  • The extent is whether they disclose everything to us. If there is only a partial disclosure then a full reduction will not be due. There is an overlap here with ‘helping’ - we do not consider a disclosure that makes no reference to the scale of a failure to be a complete disclosure.

Overall, the telling to you about the disclosure must be positive and as complete as possible, taking into account the person’s circumstances and ability, in order to obtain the full reduction.