At the start of the visit the officer will give the taxpayer a copy of the Fact Sheet on visits and explain what will happen during the visit. They may indicate that they would like to discuss the records with the person who keeps them. They can only do this with the agreement of the taxpayer.
The taxpayer has the right to refuse to allow the officer to enter the premises. However, unless the taxpayer agrees to a visit at a later date, the officer will consider asking the Tribunal for approval for the inspection. If the Tribunal has approved the inspection, the taxpayer can be penalised for obstructing the visit unless there is a reasonable excuse such as illness or unavoidable delay. The penalty for obstructing an inspection that has been approved by the Tribunal is £300 plus a daily penalty of up to £60.
In the course of a visit the officer has a right to inspect the premises, the business assets and the statutory records that are on the premises at the time of the visit. To see any records other than the statutory records the officer needs the taxpayer’s agreement. Otherwise, they must have been requested by a taxpayer notice requiring them to be produced at the time of the visit.
There are some documents that the officer cannot request in a taxpayer notice. If such documents are included amongst those provided at the inspection, whether deliberately or accidentally, the officer must draw the taxpayer’s attention to the fact that they have no right to inspect them without the taxpayer’s consent.
Inspecting things means nothing more than looking at them. It does not include opening boxes and searching in them. Nor does it include walking unaccompanied around the premises, which requires the taxpayer’s agreement. The officer should not mark the records that are inspected in any way, even to indicate that they have been checked. Goods or assets can, however, be marked to show that they have been inspected, although the officer must not damage them when do so.
The officer can record the information obtained in the course of the inspection and can take copies of the documents inspected or make extracts from them, if necessary by removing them from the premises. If a written receipt for any documents removed is not offered, the taxpayer can request one.
Documents removed by an officer should not be retained longer than necessary. If any are lost or damaged the taxpayer is entitled to compensation.