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HMRC internal manual

Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance

Procedural matters: records management and retention: record retention periods

Legislation affecting records retention in HMRC

There are few specific retention periods set by law. Retention periods that exist within HMRC predominantly relate to HMRC policies. Several pieces of legislation cover retention and management of records, and a list is available from the S&ID site.

HMRC policy

The majority of HMRC will apply a maximum of six years plus the current year to their records in line with the HMRC Retention and Disposal policy.

Caseflow will default to this retention period with the option to manually extend the retention period.

Retention Periods in SI

SI follows the HMRC standard (six years plus current year) for operational, non-operational and intervention records. Exceptions are covered below.

Civil Fraud and Bespoke Avoidance papers

The former direct taxes investigation retention policy, which has carried forward into the SI Operational Guidance, is to weed an investigation file at closure, see SIOG10310. The more important records created in the course of the investigation are placed in a settlement (registry/centre) file when the case is closed and it is these records that the 20 year retention period is applied to, see SIOG10320. The balance of the records that are retained following weeding are held for nine years.

Offshore Disclosure papers

These should be retained for nine years from the date of case closure.

MTIC papers

MTIC records normally fall within the six year retention period upon case closure. However, MTIC cases which may themselves be ‘closed’ but play a part in other related cases (for example, as part of a chain) will require individual marking to ensure a retention period of six years beyond the completion of their use in other cases. Therefore, in practice, there is a retention requirement beyond six years for those papers. Exceptionally, some MTIC documents may be marked for retention periods longer than six years on a document-by-document basis.

Other areas within SI

These areas work to the HMRC policy of six years plus current year. Referrals to CI from teams such Alcohol, RFTU and Tobacco are governed by HMRC’s enforcement records retention.