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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Examining Accounts: Records Examination - Planning: Return of Documents

You should retain the books and records for as long as you need to complete whatever tests you wish to perform.

Paper Records

If any records are current you should return them as soon as possible, but if any of them may be needed for further examination or discussion or for a tribunal hearing you should take precautions in case you cannot get some or all of them returned. You should have a full record of what you saw, the tests you performed and any errors you found. Copies or extracts should be taken of important documents, but records should not be photocopied in totality unless there is a very good reason.

Where records are not current, you should immediately return any that you find are not relevant to your enquiries. Do not hold on to such documents for the sake of it - they are the taxpayer’s property. You should also return any non-current records which the accountant or taxpayer will need when replying to enquiries or proposals that you send out. In many cases the accountant will be able to answer your enquiries quite adequately from the working papers without needing to have the records returned and in those cases it may be most convenient for all sides if you retain them until your enquiries are concluded. But it is important that your retention of any records should not put the taxpayer or accountant at a disadvantage. You should therefore explain that any records that you propose to retain will be returned at any time if the accountant or taxpayer feels that they would be helpful. If they are returned you should again take any necessary precautions in case you cannot get them back. Any records that you do retain should be returned to the taxpayer at the conclusion of your enquiry.

Copies of electronic records on removable computer media

There is a specific approach for records provided to you on removable computer media. You must minimise the number occasions when removable computer media, such as disks and tapes, have to be returned to the taxpayer. Destruction of the media or data is the better and most secure option, particularly when the data is a copy on a CD.

You must make our intentions clear at the outset when you request data. All letters requesting data must make it clear that we will automatically destroy the data when we have completed our action and that the onus is on the taxpayer to tell us straight away if this policy is unacceptable to them.

(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)

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