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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Introduction: types of enquiry: general

An officer of HMRC may enquire into any return (or amendment of that return) or claim made outside a return. There is no statutory definition of an enquiry, so it carries its normal dictionary meaning of `seeking information, asking, questioning’.

The legislation does not distinguish between different types of enquiry, but in practice the nature and extent of enquiries will vary considerably. To organise work within HMRC, we use two categories, full enquiries (covering the return as a whole), and aspect enquiries (dealing with one or more aspects of the return but falling short of a full enquiry) EM0092.

If we identify risks that relate to other taxes or duties, you must liaise with the relevant compliance officers responsible for that tax or duty. If they open a compliance check to address these risks, you should work your enquiry in conjunction with their compliance check.

If you suspect evasion, you must consider making an immediate referral to the Evasion Referral Team.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) There are in general two types of referral criteria. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) The first relates to volume crime risks and applies if certain conditions are met, no matter how much the PLR is. The second applies when the PLR is £50,000 or more across all heads of duty. If any of the criteria apply, you must refer the case to the Evasion Referral Team.

Although most enquiries are risk-based selections, some full enquiries are randomly selected nationally EM0093.

If we make no enquiries within the period allowed, or if we have completed an enquiry, the return becomes final unless

  • the taxpayer has carelessly or deliberately caused a loss of tax, or
  • we discover that the return was incorrect and the taxpayer had not disclosed enough information to show this.

We can make a discovery assessment and pursue enquiries under these circumstances, see EM3250+.

Your duty is to apply the law to the facts you encounter throughout the enquiry. You must aim for consistency of treatment between taxpayers. This can be difficult to achieve in an organisation like HMRC, where there is delegated authority. You should submit any technical issue which is novel, or about which you are uncertain to the appropriate technical specialist.

You should submit to contact link any case within the compliance field where it seems likely that your action may lead to inconsistent treatment between taxpayers or groups of taxpayers. You should also submit cases where your proposed course of action is novel and the circumstances in which you intend to apply it are unusually sensitive. If either applies, send a copy of your report to your manager.

You should never make any statement, written or oral, which a taxpayer might interpret as granting an amnesty to a particular group or class of taxpayers. Such a statement, even if intended to apply to just a few taxpayers, could inhibit the freedom of action of HMRC, or specialist agencies.