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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Examining Accounts: Records Examination - Planning: Recording What you have Seen

It is very important to record exactly what business and private records you see during the course of an enquiry. What tests did you apply to them and why and what did you discover.

Such information can be of use later in the case but a contemporary record is vital if

  • the records and your examination of them is a material point at a tribunal hearing or
  • there is a dispute concerning your conduct of the case or
  • the working of the case has to be taken over by another Enquiry Officer.

You must record on the enquiry plan/work programme template EM2906 

  • details of the records examined
  • results of the tests applied
  • outcomes and conclusions
  • where the supporting papers are filed.

Forms MS143(PDF 36KB) (for companies and larger unincorporated concerns) and MS144(PDF 21KB) (for smaller businesses) have been designed to assist in recording the necessary information, and their use is strongly recommended.

Maintaining a record of the tests you have carried out is equally vital when examining records electronically.

IDEA is a tool for examining computer records. It contains a history file which records the work done on a set of records. This serves as a safeguard for all concerned. You may receive requests from advisers or taxpayers for a copy of a history file. So long as they are entitled to receive confidential information in relation to the enquiry in question, there would usually be no objection to this. However, you must consult the Audit Service Team when you receive such a request.

Excel, whilst a useful tool, does not have such a facility, and therefore should be used sparingly, and with great care EM2800+.