Case review and registration: considering all available sources of information: review of HMRC files
It is essential that the full contents of all relevant HMRC files are examined while a case is at the Review stage. It is therefore the Investigator’s responsibility to make sure that all HMRC files relevant to the Review are requested, this includes all available ‘weeds’, to ensure that a complete picture of the case is obtained.
However there can be a problem in knowing where to draw the line. Where the Review concerns a number of taxpayers or companies in a large group/association common sense needs to be exercised, but Investigators should always err on the side of caution and thoroughness.
Cases still occur where a registration decision (either for or against) can be turned around at a late stage by discovering some HMRC papers that show the Investigator’s prior understanding was incorrect.
Where the Investigator is putting the Review forward for registration as an investigation case it is essential that the Registration Report should state that all reasonable steps have been taken to identify any potential HMRC papers. Those papers must have been examined in sufficient detail to enable the Investigator to be confident that nothing in the papers is going to conflict with the factual statements made in the Registration Report, and the registration recommendation.
‘Weeded’ papers can represent a special problem and a source of frustration for the Investigator. It is important to get help where possible from other offices which are better placed than SI to know whether there is any realistic prospect of accessing the ‘weeded’ papers. If there is not then there is nothing more that can be done. If this throws the registration into uncertainty, again the matter should be commented upon in the Registration Report and it will depend on the specifics of the case whether or not registration is seen as appropriate.