Tax compliance checks

Your tax affairs may be checked to make sure you’re paying the right amount. This can happen if you’re an individual taxpayer or if you run a business.

This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

What HMRC can check

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will write or phone to say what they want to check. This could be:

  • any taxes you pay
  • accounts and tax calculations
  • your Self Assessment tax return
  • your Company Tax Return
  • PAYE records and returns, if you employ people

If you use an accountant, HMRC will contact them instead.

To authorise someone other than a tax agent, write to HMRC. Tell them who you want to use and for which tax.

What happens during a check

HMRC may ask to visit your home, business or an adviser’s office, or ask you to visit them. You can have an accountant or legal adviser with you during a visit.

You may have to pay a penalty if HMRC sends you an inspection or information notice and you do not send information or refuse a visit. You will not have to pay a penalty if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’, for example:

  • you’re seriously ill
  • someone close to you has died

If you think HMRC should stop the check, write to the office that sent you the letter, giving your reasons why.

You can apply for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) at any time if you do not agree with HMRC’s decision or what they’re checking.

After the check

HMRC will write to tell you the results of the check.

You’ll be:

  • repaid if you’ve paid too much tax - you may also get interest on the amount you’re owed
  • asked to pay additional tax within 30 days if you owe more - you’ll normally have to pay interest from the date the tax was due

You may also have to pay a penalty. HMRC will look at:

  • the reasons why you underpaid or overclaimed the tax
  • whether you told HMRC as soon as you could
  • how helpful you’ve been during the check

If you have problems paying, tell the officer dealing with the check.

You can appeal a tax decision if you disagree with it.

Further help and support

Find out about why compliance checks are done, the help and support you can get and penalties.