Beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what this means

HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Working the Enquiry: Meetings: Notes of Meeting

You must make notes of all meetings and telephone conversations in which you discuss points that are relevant to an enquiry or other compliance check, see CH203510. The guidance below explains what notes you need to make, how to make sure you produce good quality notes and how to use them appropriately.

 
The brief - before the meeting or telephone conversation 
The original notes - during the meeting or telephone conversation
The final notes - after the meeting or telephone conversation
Signing the final notes
After the final notes have been signed

Types of note

 

Type of note What they are Purpose
     
Brief This is the note you make to prepare for the meeting. It records the areas to cover and the key questions to ask in the meeting. To provide a structure to the meeting.

To act as a prompt for you as you proceed through the meeting.

There is more detail below at

The brief - before the meeting or telephone conversation      
  Original notes of the meeting These are notes you make during the meeting. They record the key information discussed in the meeting. To give you the information to write up your final note.

To provide evidence in case you need to it use at a tribunal.

There is more detail below at

The original notes - during the meeting or telephone conversation      
  Final notes This is the note you type up as soon after the meeting as possible and send to the taxpayer and agent. To record factual information.

To show the taxpayer what you understood from the meeting.

To allow both parties to agree the facts recorded or to identify an area of disagreement for further consideration.

To provide evidence in case you need to use it at a tribunal.

There is more detail below at

The final notes - after the meeting or telephone conversation

 

 

The brief - before the meeting or telephone conversation

Prepare a brief in which you record all of the main points that you want to cover in the meeting. It is easier to take notes in the meeting when you have already written down the important questions in advance. Ideally leave spaces to write the answers.

The original notes - during the meeting or telephone conversation

Take notes throughout the meeting. Make it clear to those present that you are doing so. Explain that your notes will generally not be verbatim (word for word) and that you can let the taxpayer and agent have a typed up copy of the notes, see EM1834.

If a point is important, it is a good idea to repeat to the taxpayer exactly what you understand that he or she has said. You may even wish to record a particular point verbatim.

Always remember that at an appeal hearing the original notes would be considered a `writing to refresh memory’, which you could refer to when giving evidence.

You should disregard the demeanour, appearance or attitude of those attending the meeting, unless their behaviour interrupts the progress of the meeting because, for example, a person is aggressive or too upset to continue. Only record the relevant facts. You should not under any circumstances record any comments about your perceptions of an individual.

Retain your original notes in all cases. They may be useful if there is a dispute about what was said and may be required if the case goes to a tribunal hearing.

The original notes must conform to the same standard as a visiting officer’s notebook, see COG11630.

The final notes - after the meeting or telephone conversation

Use the notes you have taken during the meeting as a basis to prepare the final notes. You should normal prepare them using ‘word’. Do this as soon as possible after the end of the meeting, ideally on the same day. The longer the delay before writing up, the more likely it is that there will be omissions and errors. If you are called as a witness at a tribunal hearing, cross-examination would quickly establish the length of time since the interview, the number of meetings you have attended subsequently and the lack of reliance which can be placed on notes written up some time after the event. Your testimony in a hearing would carry little weight if it is not supported by contemporaneous notes.

Your final notes must include the following.

  • The date on which the meeting took place, the location and the names of all present.
  • The starting and ending time of the meeting.
  • The titles of all present consistently. For example, if you preface your name with `Mr’ or `Mrs’ in your notes you should do the same for the taxpayer.
  • A factual summary of what took place. The note must only contain factual statements.
  • A list of any factsheets, leaflets or other information that you gave to the taxpayer or agent during the meeting.
  • The date when you prepared the notes. This may not be the same as the date when you sign the notes - see below.

Your final note must not include the following.

  • As with your original notes, you should disregard the demeanour, appearance or attitude of those attending the meeting, unless their behaviour interrupts the progress of the meeting because, for example, a person is aggressive or too upset to continue. Only record the relevant facts. You should not under any circumstances record any comments about your perceptions of an individual.
  • Do not include anything that was not actually said in the meeting. If you wish to make any other relevant comments, you must record them in a separate note.

Signing the final notes

Check the final notes and sign and date it immediately if you are content with it.

If there were two officers at the meeting, normally only one prepares the final notes. If the other officer agrees the content, they should also certify that they agree the final note by signing and dating it without delay.

Once you have signed the notes you normally send it to the taxpayer or agent, see EM1834.

After the final notes have been signed

There may be exceptional cases where you need to add or amend information after you have signed the final notes. If so, make a separate note, indicating the reason for the amendment. Do not make manuscript amendments to the first version of the final note. It follows that where you provided the first version of the final note to the taxpayer (and agent), see EM1834, you should give them the opportunity to consider any amendment.