Commentary

A6.614 Restrictions on HMRC's information powers

Administration and compliance

A6.614 Restrictions on HMRC's information powers

A6.614 Restrictions on HMRC's information powers

Legislation places certain restrictions on HMRC in terms of the classes of information and documents that it can obtain and the persons from whom information and documents can be required. The following restrictions apply to all information notices.

The information or documents requested must be reasonably required1 and in the person's 'power or possession'2. HMRC has set out its view of the meaning of this phrase as follows3:

'In their possession' means that the person has physical control over the document. It does not matter who the document belongs to.

'In their power' means that the person has the ability to get the document, or a copy of it, from whoever holds it.

Where the taxpayer can demonstrate that the information (or document) is not within his power or possession, he will not have failed to comply with the notice.

Information and documents that cannot be required by an information notice

Personal records

Certain personal records or journalistic material4 or material that relates to any pending tax appeal, is exempt from the provisions of an information notice5.

Personal records are defined as those documents and other records which relate to an individual's physical or mental health or to counselling or assistance given to him for the purposes of his personal welfare.

Where 'personal records' contain mixed information HMRC can require the person to provide the information that does not relate to any individual's welfare6. HMRC recognises that any document that contains welfare information is very sensitive and that it therefore follows that

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