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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Examining Accounts: Computer Generated Records: Understanding the System

There are three elements to consider when reviewing a computer accounting system.

  1. Hardware - the computer, printer, monitors etc. This is where the records are kept EM2803.
  2. Software - the operating system and applications software (an accounting package is a piece of applications software). This is how the records are kept and in what format EM2805.
  3. Support staff - these may be a mixture of dedicated support staff and accountancy staff in a large business or in a small one it may be just the proprietor. These are the people who enter the records and have control over who enters the records EM2807.

As with traditional paper records, a broad understanding of the accounting system in place is required to properly analyse the records maintained. Depending on the business, you may need to find out more detailed information about the operation of the system. If it is a small business, the proprietor may have operated a simple accounting package himself, with minimal or no support. At the other end of the scale, a large company may have an in-house computer department, responsible for the whole accounting system, or it may have out-sourced all or part of its IT requirements.

For a small business, you will probably need to know what accounting package has been used and which version.

In a large business, you may need to ask more detailed questions about how the system operates to find out the best method of obtaining usable data for testing.

You should

  • consult your local Data Handling Specialist for assistance at the earliest opportunity
  • remember that obtaining the correct data in the best format at the outset can

    • be easier
    • mean the enquiry is concluded quicker and
    • save time and expense for the taxpayer.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)