Opening letter to a compliance check

By Tolley in association with Emma Broadbent of Grant Thornton
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The following Owner-Managed Businesses guidance note by Tolley in association with Emma Broadbent of Grant Thornton provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Opening letter to a compliance check
  • The format of the opening letter
  • Nature of information requested
  • Formal information request
  • Appealing against the information request
  • Failure to comply with the information request

The format of theopening letter

When HMRC issues a notice that it is checking a return, theopening letter will invariably request information and documents. The opening letter under TMA 1970, ss 9A, 12AC (for individuals and trustees, and partnerships respectively) or FA 1998, Sch 18, para 24 (for companies) is sent to thetaxpayer, with a copy to theagent if thetaxpayer is represented. These letters will often be different in tone and content.

The opening letter to theagent will usually encourage an early phone call to discuss thecheck and enclose an information sheet asking about computer based records. The opening letter to thetaxpayer will not mention any of this but does explain what happens when thecheck has been completed. The format of theletter to theagent is typically a notification of thecheck followed by details of why thecheck is being made (see below).

Please click here for a typical letter which might be sent to a taxpayer to open a check into a self assessment tax return.

Click here to view pdf

Please click here for a typical letter which might be sent to an agent to open a check into a client's self assessment tax return.

Click here to view pdf

Tax adviser’s notification

The opening section of theletter will advise which return period thecheck applies to and thestatutory basis for thecheck, unless it is an informal check.

It is important for theadviser to make sure that thestatutory basis used and thereturn period that HMRC is checking is valid and that it is within theappropriate time limits. Brief discussion of thenormal time limits and legislative framework for checking returns is included in theTypes of checks on returns guidance note, and the

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