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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Agent operational guidance: dishonest tax agents: getting access to an agent's files: when we require an agent’s files

You may require access to a tax agent’s files to find out the full extent of the agent’s dishonest conduct, and to quantify the amount of tax lost, or the potential tax loss.

If you already know the full extent of the dishonest conduct and the tax lost you do not need to get the tax agent’s files. Instead, you can consider how to recover the lost tax, see CH881800, and proceed to charging a penalty for dishonest conduct, see CH883000.

You would not need the agent’s files if the agent makes a full disclosure of the dishonest conduct, either before or after you have issued a conduct notice, and then either

  • amends the affected clients’ tax returns, or
  • gives you all the information you need to recover the lost tax from the clients affected by the dishonest conduct.

The work needed to amend clients’ returns, or supply you with all the information you need to recover tax from affected clients, may be carried out by an organisation rather than a dishonest tax agent. For example, where the tax agent no longer works in the organisation whose clients are affected by the dishonest conduct. In this case you would not need access to the tax agent’s files.

If you need documents or information from the tax agent’s clients you must use information powers under FA08/SCH36 as part of a compliance check.