HMRC’s power to require information and documents

Produced by Tolley

The following Owner-Managed Businesses guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • HMRC’s power to require information and documents
  • Introduction
  • Pre-return checks
  • Information notices
  • Taxpayer notice
  • Third party notice
  • Financial institution notice
  • Identity unknown notice
  • Identification notices
  • Contents of the information notice
  • More...

HMRC’s power to require information and documents


A framework of compliance checks, supported by the powers within FA 2008, Sch 36, enables HMRC Officers to:

  1. visit business premises to inspect the premises, assets and statutory records

  2. ask taxpayers and third parties for information and documents where they are reasonably required to check a tax position or collect a tax debt

These powers apply to most, although not all, of the taxes for which HMRC is responsible. They replace a number of separate powers which previously applied to different taxes and were used to obtain information. A list of the powers replaced by FA 2008, Sch 36 can be found in CH21050.

Not all powers have been replaced, and it is important to check that the Officer is using the correct powers for the correct period. Where FA 2008, Sch 36 and other powers overlap, guidance is given to Officers as to how to decide which power to use at CH21070.

Checks can only be carried out where it is reasonable to do so, and to check a tax position or collect a tax debt. Where the risk identified relates to a period which is out of time for assessment, the Officer should not pursue it.

A ‘tax position’ means a person’s past, present and future liability position with regard to any of the listed taxes, including penalties, claims and election, etc in connection with those taxes.

A ‘collecting a tax debt’ means any steps in connection with the recovery of an amount of tax due from a person or any other amount in connection with any tax (eg penalties and interest). Note that the ability to issue an information notice for the purpose of collecting a tax debt owed by the taxpayer was introduced by FA 2021. However, an information notice can be issued for such a purpose irrespective of when the tax debt arose.

Pre-return checks

FA 2008, Sch 36 allows a compliance check to be made before a return has been submitted. A risk must be identified

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