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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Examining Accounts: Records Examination - Planning: Removal of Documents

If during the course of records examination at the business premises it becomes clear that further work needs to be done on a particular set of records, you should ask to take papers back to the office. A receipt should be given for whatever is removed.

The records are the property of the owner of the business who can refuse you permission to take them away with you. You should

  • explain why you need to take them away - usually because you do not have sufficient time to study the relevant documents to the necessary extent at the business premises
  • establish to what extent removal will inconvenience the smooth operation of the business - the records concerned are likely to be a year or more old so temporary removal may not be a problem
  • agree a timetable for returning any records likely to be required by the proprietor in the near future
  • consider whether any potential difficulty can be resolved by you or the proprietor photocopying the documents, and
  • (if necessary) mention the powers available to you under FA08/Sch36 (CH20000+).

If permission is refused

  • make a note of the documents concerned, including the features which caused you to want to take them away for further examination, then sign it and record the date and time (any colleague with you should also sign),
  • tell the proprietor that Schedule 36 powers will be considered and that he or she should retain the original as destruction etc. may be an offence, record that you have done so and follow this up promptly with a confirmatory letter, and
  • issue a notice under FA08/Sch36/Para1 as soon as possible.

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

If you need to remove computerised records for further examination, you should, as far as possible, request an electronic copy rather than printouts. If there is any difficulty with this, you should

  • explain that it is likely to be less expensive to provide a back-up on disk etc, rather than produce large amounts of printouts.
  • explain that it should be quicker for you to analyse the data electronically rather than looking through many pages of printouts, and
  • the removal of a copy back up should not interfere with the ongoing day-to-day recording of business transactions.

If however, only a small amount of information is needed, obtaining a few printouts might be a more appropriate way forward.