Meetings and visits to client premises during a compliance check

By Tolley in association with Emma Broadbent of Grant Thornton

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:

  • Meetings and visits to client premises during a compliance check
  • Introduction
  • Meetings
  • Purpose
  • Agendas
  • Agents
  • Venue
  • Preparation for the meeting
  • Notes of meeting
  • Conduct of the meeting


From HMRC’s point of view meetings are an important part of compliance checks into tax returns.

The information an HMRC officer requires to carry out a compliance check will often consist, not just of business and financial records and documentation, but also of explanations from the taxpayer. HMRC’s view is that it will often save time and cost all round if those explanations are obtained at a meeting at an early stage during the compliance check, rather than by correspondence. For HMRC guidance on meetings in relation to compliance checks, see EM1820 onwards.

This guidance note covers meetings in respect of checks carried out on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). For other types of meetings / visits, see the Overview of business records checks and The Contractual Disclosure Facility guidance notes.


HMRC has powers to inspect business premises and the business assets and business documents on those premises, as provided by FA 2008, Sch 36, Part 2. These powers do not extend to compelling a taxpayer to attend a meeting. If, during the course of a visit, HMRC wishes to meet with any particular person this should normally be arranged in advance with an agenda provided by HMRC and on the understanding that attendance by the particular person is voluntary.

If an agenda is provided beforehand, the taxpayer will be expected to be in a position to answer any questions raised in advance. It is essential, therefore, that both the taxpayer and advisor are well prepared for the meeting. If an agenda is not requested, the client may have more room for manoeuvre during the visit. However, an agenda provides focus and it also allows the taxpayer or agent to take HMRC to task if it goes beyond it, whereas no agenda can allow HMRC free reign to pursue what angles it chooses.

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