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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Agent operation guidance: dishonest tax agents: penalties: initial penalty

A person is liable to an initial penalty of £300 when they fail to comply with a file access notice, see CH183340.

You can not charge a penalty if there is a reasonable excuse for the failure to comply, see CH183500.

You must get written authority from your manager to assess an initial penalty.

If the person does not comply with the notice, you must attempt to contact them by phone. You must tell them that you have not received the documents and that they may have to pay a penalty.

If the person tells you that they need more time to comply with the notice, see CH882850.

If the person’s response shows that they have a reasonable excuse for the failure to comply, see CH183500.

If the person tells you that they have sent the documents by post you should allow a reasonable amount of time for them to arrive. Normally this will be four working days. If you do not receive the documents within this time you must assess an initial penalty of £300.

You must not delay getting your manager’s written authority and issuing the penalty assessment. If file access notices are to be effective, it is important that you follow them up promptly at all stages.

You must issue a penalty assessment for failure to comply with a file access notice within set time limits, see CH185060.

Details of how to create the penalty charge are at CH883810.

When you assess the penalty, you must send the person a

  • Notice of assessment.
  • Payslip generated through Print Payslip using the SAFE charge reference. If you do not have access to a stand-alone printer use manual payslip PS1(BZ) and enter the SAFE charge reference by hand.

You should send a copy of the file access notice with your penalty notice, marking the copy to show what you still need the person to provide.

An initial penalty notice (TA7) is available in SEES Forms and Letters.

A person can appeal against the imposition and the amount of a penalty for failing to comply with a file access notice, see CH185260.

If you have referred your case to the Commissioners’ Advisory Accountant (CAA) you must tell the CAA team about a penalty charged on the tax agent, see CH881600.

If money laundering issues arise, or you have already reported an agent to Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (AMLS), see CH881150.