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HMRC internal manual

Technical Teams Operational Guidance

HM Revenue & Customs
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Code 9 cases registered prior to 1/9/05 (Hansard): Historical Record: the opening Hansard meeting: Hansard Statement

As quickly as possible after the start of the meeting the caution should be given and the taxpayer should be handed the Hansard Statement. The Investigator should advise the taxpayer in general terms why this is necessary.

The following form of words should be adapted to the circumstances of each individual case. It is not necessary to follow this precisely but the sense of matters should be preserved.

‘Information is in the hands of the Department which suggests that in past years the accounts and returns of [Company name if applicable], and your own tax returns may not have been correct. It may be that the information is incomplete or misleading but it is my duty to ask you certain questions. I want you to understand, however, that I am not making any charge or allegation.’

Where a disclosure has already been made to the Local Compliance office or direct to SI the disclaimer that forms part of the above statement is inappropriate. An alternative form of words can be used adapted to the circumstances of the case.

Matters should then proceed as follows:

‘Before asking these questions I must bring to your attention the practice of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in regard to tax fraud contained in a Question and Answer in the House of Commons on 7 November 2002 and reported in Hansard.’

Where the disclaimer was used in the preliminary remarks it can be repeated:

‘By reading this statement you must not take it to mean that I believe you guilty of fraud or evasion. My information, as I said, may be incomplete, misleading or capable of satisfactory explanation.’

Copies of the Hansard Statement should be signed and dated by the Investigator and handed out to taxpayers and the Investigator should read it out aloud.

The Investigator should ask the taxpayer if the Hansard Statement is understood. The verbatim response should be recorded.

If the taxpayer says that the Hansard Statement is not understood the Investigator should not paraphrase the Statement. The Investigator should either suggest the Statement be read again or invite a brief adjournment for the adviser to explain the Statement to the taxpayer. The Hansard Statement has to stand alone as the Board’s policy.

It is undesirable to get bogged down at this point. The taxpayer will have the opportunity to consider fully the Hansard policy once the Hansard questions have been put. Our legal advice is that we do not need to be specific. COP 9 makes clear that we suspect serious fraud and a statement to that effect together with “your tax returns/ accounts appear incorrect” is sufficient.

Reference can be made to TTOG11520 which gives guidance on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1988 on civil procedures for dealing with fraud.