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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Penalties for VAT and Excise Wrongdoing: Calculating the penalty: Reducing the penalty: Giving access

Giving access includes a person responding positively to requests for information and documents and allowing access to

  • their business and other records
  • other relevant documents.

Access is needed for you to make sure that the amount due because of the wrongdoing is fully quantified and is more than simply complying with requests for information.

What is important is the timing, nature and extent of the access given.

  • A person should give access when requested and there should rarely be a need for us to use information powers or issue reminders. If it is not possible to produce the records or relevant documents at the time of the request the person should give reasons and make every effort to provide them as soon as possible.
  • The person should offer access to their records and documents at a convenient and agreed location. If you require copies these should be provided or the person should not object to you removing the documents to copy in the office. If you remove any records you should always give a receipt and return the documents as soon as possible. If you encounter difficulties in getting access then you should not give the full reduction.
  • The extent of the access given covers what records and documents are made available. It is the person who will know what records and documents exist or can be obtained and it is for them to tell us. If there are records or documents that are not offered then the full reduction is not due. However you should only seek access to records that are reasonably required for the purpose of checking how much is due because of the wrongdoing.