HMRC’s power to request data

By Tolley

The following Corporation Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • HMRC’s power to request data
  • Introduction
  • Outline
  • Relevant data, relevant data-holders and data-holder notices
  • Time limits
  • Penalties
  • Grounds for appeal against the data-holder notice


HMRC collects taxes needed to fund and deliver central government spending. With the extra investment in HMRC compliance activity since 2010, HMRC is tasked with raising an increasing amount of revenue by tackling tax avoidance and tax evasion.

A series of initiatives have been launched since 2010 to achieve the revenue target, including campaigns and task force activity, but HMRC has also been given extra help in the form of increased legislative powers to collect data.

These data-gathering powers were introduced from 1 April 2012 to replace previous powers contained in TMA 1970. For a list of the previous legislative provisions, see CH28130. For background information on the introduction of the new data-gathering powers, see Simon’s Taxes A6.325 (subscription sensitive).

The data collected then feeds into the analysis work conducted by the HMRC Risk and Intelligence Service and is thought to play a prominent role in determining which campaigns are going to be launched and which business sectors are going to be targeted for task force activity.

Please see the HMRC campaigns ― introduction (subscription sensitive) and HMRC task forces guidance notes for further commentary.

The data-gathering powers were extended to merchant acquirers from 17 July 2013 and applied retrospectively, subject to the time limits discussed below. Merchant acquirers process credit and debit card payments for merchants and retailers.

The data-gathering powers to business intermediaries and electronic payment service providers were further extended in FA 2016. Business intermediaries include booking and reservation companies such as those that take payment for hotel and holiday accommodation, restaurants supplying take away food and outlets reselling tickets for music concerts and theatre productions. Electronic payment service providers facilitate different ways of paying, such as digital wallets, which can be used in conjunction with mobile payment systems that allow individuals to make purchases with their smartphones. Again, these changes legislated from 15

More on HMRC powers in relation to compliance checks: