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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Information Powers: TMA70/S20: Written Summary to Taxpayer




At the same time as a notice under Section 20 is given, the officer must

  • provide the taxpayer with a written summary of the officer’s reasons for applying for consent to the giving of the notice
  • specify what information remains outstanding, the dates on which it was requested, and why the officer considers that it may be required in connection with the investigation.

The taxpayer should not be sent a copy of the officer’s brief, but unless it includes confidential information the contents of the brief can often be used as a basis of the written summary.

However, information need not be disclosed

  • if it is capable of identifying the provider of information which the officer has taken into account in deciding whether to apply for consent (Section 20(8G)(a) or
  • if the Commissioner giving consent directs that the information should be excluded (Section 20(8G)(b)).

The Commissioner, giving such a direction, must be satisfied that the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that disclosure of the information will be prejudicial to the assessment, or collection of tax. Officers should therefore identify such information and, when making their application should state the grounds for seeking a Section 20(8G) direction.

Before seeking Section 20 consent, the officer should prepare a record of any information falling within Section 20(8G)(a) for retention in the file.

The Commissioner should be advised of the provisions of Section 20(8G)(b) and (8H). If the officer considers that there are reasonable grounds, he should ask the Commissioner to consider whether or not a direction under Section 20(8G)(b) is appropriate.

If the Commissioner gives a direction under Section 20(8G)(b), full details of the information not to be disclosed should be recorded. The following should be inserted on form 83(new) or 83A(new) as appropriate, immediately above the space for the Commissioners signature:

‘I direct that information which I have taken into account shall not be subject to the requirements of TMA70/Section 20(8E).’

In addition, in the case of a Section 20(3) notice, a summary of the officer’s reasons need not be given to the taxpayer where the Commissioner has given a direction under Section 20B(1B). EM10124.