HMRC internal manual

Fraud Civil Investigation Manual

FCIM205080 - Where CDF offer is made 30 June 2014 onwards: the initial meeting: visiting the customer’s premises

At some point in the enquiry you may decide that it will be useful to visit the customer’s business premises, in order to inspect them, and to inspect the business records and business assets. You have the right to do this under paragraph 10 Sch36 FA 2008, subject to safeguards and procedures. Full guidance on the use of this inspection power is given in the Compliance Handbook, and it should be followed carefully.

Depending on the case, an inspection may be appropriate during or after any meeting with the customer. This might be

  • when meeting to discuss the Outline Disclosure, or
  • as part of the verification of any detailed disclosure report, or
  • where you are carrying out the investigation yourself.

Such a visit should never be seen as a matter of routine, and most cases will not require a visit at all.

Exceptionally, it may be worthwhile inspecting the customer’s private premises. Such a visit may provide assurance about the customer’s lifestyle in a case where defalcations have to be quantified by reference to outgoings. Unless we are carrying out a valuation under Para 12 Sch36 F A 2008, see CH25380, this visit may only be made at the customer’s invitation. You should make it very clear that you do not have the power to inspect premises that are not used for business purposes. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) SIOG6140. You must never go to the customer’s house to gain this information covertly.

Note that it may often be necessary for HMRC to make visits outside of the COP9 investigation and while the investigation is continuing. For example, to check on the current application of PAYE and VAT rules. COP9 only applies to those taxes that are due before the date that the investigation commenced. The existence of a COP9 enquiry should not be allowed to curb reasonable assurance visits which focus on later liabilities.