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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Information Powers: TMA70/S20: Opportunity for the Third Party to Supply Information


The legislation states that the third party must be given a reasonable opportunity to deliver or make available the documents in question.

Your letter should

  • draw attention to the powers available under Section 20(3).
  • set out clearly what documents are required.
  • indicate that a formal notice will be sought if the documents are not produced by a specified date. The time to be allowed should not be less than 30 days but more time may be given if, for example, large numbers of documents are required,
  • ask whether the third party wishes to make any written representations which can be put to the Appeal Commissioner EM10112, and
  • include a short warning along the lines of ‘it can be a criminal offence intentionally to falsify conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of any of these documents before they have been produced to HMRC’.

A copy of the informal request does not have to be sent to the taxpayer.

You should take care to ensure notices are not oppressive or unfair. For example, a notice drawn too widely could fall within this category if, in order to comply, the third party needed to search all its records for a lengthy period. In drawing up the terms of your notice, you should take account not only of the expected benefit to HMRC of receiving the documents but also the likely cost to the third party of complying with the notice.

A brief report, with the file should be made to contact link in any case where

  • there is doubt about the propriety of issuing a formal notice to a third party, or
  • you wish to issue a notice to a minor or other incapacitated person, or
  • a notice has been issued and the addressee objects to it on a technical or legal ground.