HMRC powers ― Part II

By Tolley

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

  • HMRC powers ― Part II
  • Tax agents
  • Data gathering powers
  • Visits by HMRC
  • Access to recorded information and computer records
  • Inspecting premises
  • Power to make businesses keep documents
  • Power to take samples
  • Opening gaming machines
  • Notice requiring information or documents
  • Assessments
  • Disaggregation of business activities
  • Groups of companies ― anti-avoidance
  • Repayment of VAT
  • Compulsory de-registration
  • Customs examination powers

This guidance note provides an overview of the powers that can be used by HMRC and will link to other guidance notes where more information can be found. This note should be read in conjunction with the HMRC powers ― Part I guidance note.

Tax agents

With effect from 1 April 2013, HMRC has the power to obtain documents from tax agents who have been engaging in dishonest conduct. HMRC also has the power to impose penalties and publish their details. Criminal penalties can also be imposed on dishonest tax agents as well.

HMRC can issue a ‘file access notice’ that requires the tax agent or other person to produce relevant documents that HMRC believes to be in their possession. The person issued with the notice will be referred to as the ‘document holder’.

A file access notice may require the production of specified relevant documents, or all relevant documents in the document-holder's possession or power. The notice does not need to identify the tax agent’s specific client, but if it is addressed to someone other than the tax agent, the name of the tax agent must be quoted. The notice may specify that documents must be reasonably provided by a certain date, in a certain format and delivered to specific individuals at a specific place. Copies of the documents specified will normally suffice if HMRC has not specified that it requires the originals. HMRC may take copies or extracts of any documents provided under a file access notice. HMRC is also entitled to retain such documents where this is considered necessary, but it must provide the document-holder with copies free of charge on request, and compensate the document-holder if they lose any documents.

However it should be noted that a document holder is not required to produce the following:

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