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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Agent operational guidance: poor agent behaviour: agent's behaviour, although legal, gives HMRC cause for concern: difficulty getting information

When you write to agents asking for information you may experience difficulties because the agent

  • sends an evasive or incomplete response
  • will not reply to letters
  • repeatedly promises to provide information, but then doesn’t do so
  • provides only a part of the information you require to complete your check
  • refuses to supply statements for private bank accounts, even though it is reasonable to expect such accounts may contain information relevant to entries in the tax return.

You should take some time to check that the agent is not experiencing difficulties with your requests. They may, for example, be suffering from staff problems in their office, or their client may not be able to supply the information they need to reply to you, or the client has not paid the agent for work done.

You can address most forms of resistance and delay by using your powers under FA08/SCH36. You can use these powers to

  • gather information and examine documents
  • inspect business premises and the business assets and business documents on those premises.

Information and inspection powers and how they should be used are explained in detail from CH20000.

If the agent’s behaviour could affect penalty reductions for disclosure, see CH871000.