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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
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Penalties for Inaccuracies: Calculating the Penalty: Penalty reductions for quality of disclosure: Helping

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

Helping includes

  • giving reasonable help in quantifying the inaccuracy or under-assessment
  • positive assistance as opposed to passive acceptance or obstruction
  • actively engaging in the work to accurately quantify the inaccuracies
  • volunteering any information relevant to the disclosure.

In considering whether a person has given reasonable help, you should take account of the abilities and circumstances of the person. You should clearly explain what is needed from them to assist you in quantifying the correct amount of tax or duty and why it is needed.

What is important is the timing, nature and extent of the help the person provides to quantify the inaccuracies or under-assessment.

  • The timing relates to how soon the disclosure is made and the period over which the help is given. As well as there not being any avoidable delays there should be an active approach, providing information as early as possible.
  • The nature covers whether the help is useful and saves you time and effort in quantifying the inaccuracy. For the person to just appear to be helpful but not actually producing anything of use is not what is required. It includes help in bringing the compliance check to a speedy and accurate conclusion.
  • The extent of the help covers the whole period of the compliance check from start to finish and all aspects of the compliance check relating to that inaccuracy, as and when required. If help is only received for part of the time or in certain aspects you would not give the full reduction.

Overall, helping you with quantifying the inaccuracies must be as active as possible and there are many different ways of achieving this. For example

  • analysing and identifying expenditure that may not be allowable
  • quantifying omitted sales (by reference to non-business records or private expenditure)
  • obtaining evidence capable of verification, for example bank statements
  • attending meetings with you where that is the best way to both quantify the inaccuracy and test the disclosure.

This guidance applies equally to a disclosure made by another person (T) about false information they deliberately gave to a person (P) with the intention of making P’s return inaccurate, or a disclosure about information they deliberately withheld, see CH81165.