Where CDF offer is made up to 29 June 2014: the initial meeting: conduct of meetings and formal requests for information
At the start of the meeting it should be made clear that:
- the taxpayer has been asked to attend on a voluntary basis
- that they are free to leave at any time
- they do not have to co-operate, but the extent to which they provide information and help to resolve the investigation will be reflected in any penalty that is payable.
- In explaining the format of any meeting and the procedures to be adopted, you must take into account the purpose of the meeting.
It is important to emphasise that at this point the interviewing officer is not exercising any powers. Any power, for example, requiring the production of certain documents should only be exercised at a later stage if the voluntary procedure breaks down. It is not the intention that such powers are exercised at any initial meeting in cases where a CDF has been offered and accepted. However, in any case involving a denial or non-cooperation you should anticipate if, in the right circumstances, you should go to the meeting prepared to issue the taxpayer with a formal notice. You should discuss this with your Authorising Officer before you take such action.
There should be a single meeting for all taxes. If the case covers several different taxes, staff with the relevant experience should be involved in the meeting. It would be wholly artificial to insist on separate meetings for separate taxes. The meeting should take place in a structured way. The first part of the meeting might, for example, focus on VAT. Once these matters have been dealt with satisfactorily it should then be explained that the interview is moving on to consider, say, Corporation Tax.
The recording and retention of material is a critical part of the disclosure obligations set out in CPIA 1996 (as amended by Section 32-40 CJA 2003) in the event that a subsequent criminal investigation is undertaken within HMRC; it is therefore important that you are able to demonstrate not only what actions have been taken and why, but also that material in relation to the specific matter is searchable and retrievable if and when the need arises.