Commentary

V5.234 Power to obtain information, inspect documents, etc

Part V5 Compliance, enforcement and appeals

V5.234 Power to obtain information, inspect documents, etc

V5.234 Power to obtain information, inspect documents, etc

Introduction

There is an obvious need for officers of HMRC to have certain powers to obtain information in order to verify the accuracy of traders' returns and set up an 'audit trail' from one set of accounts to another. They have a number of statutory sources of information, including suppliers and their customers, the (former) Inland Revenue, and competent authorities in other EU member states.

Powers from 1 April 2009

The powers described below replaced, with effect from 1 April 20091,similar powers contained in VATA 1994, Sch 11. The purpose of the revised legislation is to provide HMRC with a range of powers which can be applied consistently over the main taxes which they administer2.

Information notices

HMRC may require3 certain persons to provide information or produce a document regarding their own, or another person's, tax position4.

The information is to be obtained by issuing the appropriate notice, such notices being collectively known as 'information notices'5. A tribunal has held6 that ' “information notices should be expressed in clear terms' and that 'it should be a straightforward matter for both parties to know whether an information notice has been complied with. That is why HMRC guidance states that the information notice should request facts and not opinion. In this case, the built-in assumptions on which the requests for information were based made it impossible for the parties to know whether the notice had been complied with because the accuracy of the assumptions was disputed” '.

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