The legislative framework for compliance checks, which is contained in Finance Act 2008, provides for


    • Inspection powers­ Sch. 36


    • Information powers – Sch. 36


    • Record keeping – Sch. 37


    • Time-limits for assessments and claims – Sch. 39


    • The power to access and inspect computers – s. 114




The inspection powers contained in Sch. 36 give HMRC the power to visit business premises and check assets and records.  They can use this power before a return has been received.  While any visit will normally be by prior arrangement, HMRC have the power to make unannounced visits.


The information powers included in Sch. 36 replace the old information powers that were contained in:


    • TMA 1970, s. 19A – written information powers for SA enquiries


    • TMA 1970, s. 20 – written information powers (for direct taxes only)


    • TMA 1970, Sch. 1A, para. 6 – written information power for enquiries into a claim


    • TMA 1970, Sch. 1A, para 6 – written information power for CTSA enquiries


    • FA 1998, Sch. 18, para 27-29 – VAT power to look at records and information power


    • VATA 1994, Sch. 11, para 7 – the power to look at PAYE records


    • SI 2003/2682, reg 97 – the power to look at NICs records


    • SI 2001/1004, Sch. 4, para 26 – the power to look at CIS records




Provided they are reasonably required for the purpose of checking a tax position, the new powers give HMRC the power to require taxpayers or third parties to provide information and produce documents.


Some of the information and inspection powers contained in Sch. 36 can only be used by, or with the agreement of, an Authorised Officer.  The Authorised Officer is generally the officers’ line manager but may be the manager’s manager or someone outside the operational unit with appropriate experience or training.


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