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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Agent operational guidance: dishonest tax agents: establishing dishonest conduct: initial contact with an individual

Before you issue a conduct notice you may want to make an informal approach to the individual involved.

If the individual worked within an organisation you may first want to approach the organisation itself, see CH881200.

Contact with the individual responsible for the dishonest conduct gives them the opportunity to make a full disclosure to you about the extent of the dishonest conduct. This is important because a disclosure by the individual could affect

  • the level of penalty you can charge, see CH184040 
  • whether you publish their details, see CH186000.

As soon as you have reason to believe the individual has been involved in dishonest conduct you must tell them about their human rights, see CH881300.

You must also tell them that you welcome full and early disclosure so that you can quantify the tax lost where client returns are incorrect. Where you also need documents to establish the full extent of the tax loss you may be able to get these from the individual without having to issue a file access notice, see CH882300.

If the tax agent is a member of a professional or other regulatory body you must tell them that HMRC can make a public interest disclosure to their professional body, see CH881600.

As soon as you make contact you must tell the individual that they must not conceal documents we may require, see CH182180. If you have not told them in writing, then you must create and retain a written record of how and when you told them and provide them with a copy of it.

Whether you make an informal approach or not, you cannot continue with your action against the individual without first giving them a conduct notice.