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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Agent operational guidance: dishonest tax agents: getting access to an agent’s files: file access notice: opportunity letters

You must give the tax agent and, where different, the document-holder a reasonable opportunity to make representations to you, before you apply to the tribunal for approval to issue a file access notice. You do this by sending an opportunity letter to the document-holder and, if the tax agent is not the document-holder, a copy of the opportunity letter to the tax agent.

Where the document-holder is

  • the tax agent, you must send them opportunity letter TA2 in SEES Forms and Letters
  • a third party, you must send them opportunity letter TA3, and send the tax agent a copy with letter TA4 in SEES Forms and Letters.

You will normally have discussed what documents you want to see with the document-holder before you give them the opportunity letter. The opportunity letter must, as far as possible, contain the same list of documents that you discussed with the document-holder. You should use the TA100 Schedule of documents required in SEES forms and letters when you send letters TA2, TA3 and TA4.

In the opportunity letter you must list the documents you want to see in the same way as you list them in the file access notice. The text in the opportunity letter must be capable of being copied and pasted into the notice that the tribunal is asked to approve.

However, while the notice may be drafted more narrowly than the opportunity letter to reflect representations received, it must not be drafted more widely. If you need to add something to the proposed notice you must send a fresh opportunity letter.

The opportunity letter must give the document-holder at least 30 days to make representations.

Opportunity letters remind document-holders that it is an offence to conceal documents that we require, see CH183420.

An application to the tribunal to issue a file access notice must be made by or with the agreement of an authorised officer, see CH882700. You must discuss the contents of the opportunity letter with an authorised officer before you send it.