Raising enquiries: purpose and aims
The main purpose of the initial enquiry or approach to the taxpayers is to
- seek information about specific areas of concern, concentrating on those areas where there may be significant amounts of tax at stake
- ask for information and documents that you reasonably need to satisfy yourself about the items that you are concerned about
- point out and correct or ‘repair’ any obvious errors, such as wrong values used for quoted shares, arithmetic errors and missed grossing or interaction. This is subject of course to the normal de minimis limits
You should frame your questions carefully so that the taxpayers are clear about precisely what information you need and all information is requested at the outset. You should phrase your questions in such a way that they can, if necessary, be lifted to form the basis of a FA08/Sch36 information notice (IHTM32191) should any delays arise in replying to your enquiries. Any request for information should be reasonable bearing in mind the degree of tax at risk.
If you have identified that significant tax is at risk or the case is to be treated as a full enquiry (IHTM29022) there are further questions (IHTM09053) that you should consider asking to
- help you add to the general picture and expose areas where proper enquiries have not been made and assets may have been missed
- find out what prime records and evidence lie behind the figures.
In some cases you may find it helpful to have preliminary discussions with the taxpayers to explain your concerns and requirements. This may allow you to agree jointly on the best way to take the enquiry forward.