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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Penalties for Inaccuracies: Types of inaccuracy: Onus of proof

You must check the date from which these rules apply for the tax or duty you are dealing with. See CH81011 for full details.

It is for you to show, based on the evidence gathered, that a document contains a careless or deliberate inaccuracy.

You should tell the person that they may be liable to a penalty as soon as you become aware of the likelihood, even if you have not yet established the seriousness of the behaviour that gave rise to the penalty.

It is particularly important that you do not discuss the seriousness of the behaviour that has led to the penalty until you have established all the facts. At that point you must explain why the person’s actions meant or led you to conclude that the inaccuracy was made carelessly or deliberately.

You should then invite the person’s comments. If this is dealt with at a meeting the notes of the meeting should record fully what you said and the person’s response.

If during a telephone conversation you become aware that penalties may be due, you should explain and then follow this up by putting your reasons in writing to the person.

Where a penalty is due it is important that you explain to the person what has gone wrong and how they can correct it in the future.

You should apply this guidance in conjunction with the Human Rights Act procedures at CH300000+.