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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
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Agent operational guidance: scope of this guidance

This guidance is for all HMRC staff who come into contact with agents who are authorised to assist our customers with their tax and benefit affairs.

The guidance acknowledges the important role that agents play in the smooth delivery of the UK’s tax and benefit system. While we recognise that the vast majority of relationships between agents and HMRC are good, a small number are not.

The guidance helps HMRC staff identify the rare occasions when agent conduct falls below that which HMRC and the major agent representative bodies consider appropriate in a professional relationship. It sets out the categories of poor agent behaviour and the mechanisms to report poor technical, abusive, suspicious or dishonest behaviour.

The guidance explains how to respond to behaviour that, while legal, gives HMRC cause for concern, such as unreasonable behaviour aimed at disrupting and delaying our interventions.

The guidance also explains how and why HMRC might limit its contact with agents and, in extreme cases, refuse to deal with an agent entirely.

Finally, it provides detailed operational guidance about the civil penalty process for dishonest tax agents contained in Schedule 38 to the Finance Act 2012. See CH180000 for technical guidance.