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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Information Powers: TMA70/S19A, TMA70/SCH1A/PARA 6 and FA98/SCH18/PARA 27: Relevance of 'Private' Accounts to the Return

Taxpayers may sometimes argue that non-interest earning private bank accounts have no bearing on the accuracy of the return, in order to disguise the fact that these accounts contain information relevant to the return and which might not otherwise come to light. You should therefore examine critically any such claim and decide whether or not to pursue your request for the information on the basis of your knowledge of the facts of the case at that stage. You may conclude that you cannot require the information at this point. This will not prevent you asking for it at a later stage if by then you can demonstrate its relevance to the return.

Business taxpayers

Some factors will be more likely to apply to business than to non-business taxpayers. If you meet with resistance from business taxpayers or their agents to supplying private bank statements (in response to either an informal request or a formal notice) on the grounds that this information cannot be the subject of a Section 19A notice, you should explain why you believe you are entitled to require this information and ask the taxpayer or agent to state the detailed grounds for their objection (if they have not already done so).

Non-business taxpayers

For non-business taxpayers, the right to obtain information relating to private bank or building society accounts will depend on individual circumstances. Where an employee is in receipt of investment income, a thorough check of the return might require sight of the taxpayer’s savings accounts. And in the case of an employee who is claiming travel and subsistence costs it may be necessary to see the private current account to establish that the expenses have been incurred if the other available documentation leaves any doubt about this.

It is important that you should be capable of demonstrating, to the Commissioners satisfaction if necessary, in every case in which a Section 19A notice is issued that the information is reasonably required to determine whether the return is correct and complete.