At this point the formal part of the opening interview is over and matters can be brought to a conclusion on the basis that a report is to be prepared quantifying the irregularities. Normally, however, this is inadvisable as the investigator’s areas of concern. If the interview continues, the questioning will move on to more familiar ground as in a local tax office enquiry, i.e. lengthy and detailed questions about the business and private affairs of the taxpayer.
Although the questioning is less formal, it is still essential that the replies given are accurate – the client should be in no doubt of the importance placed on this part of the interview by HMRC, and be wary of making ‘off the cuff’ remarks. He should be dissuaded from giving answers of which he is not sure and an assurance given to the investigator that the matter will be researched and included in the report to be submitted at a later date.
The investigator will give particular attention to any potentially contentious items and to this end will ask for full details of any gambling activities or cash hoards that have been referred to. In the case of alleged cash hoards, he will ask in detail about the taxpayer’s cash handling habits, establishing where his cash comes from, how it is spent and what happens to any surplus. He will also ask about any non-taxable receipts such as loans, legacies, gifts, etc. and whether the taxpayer has himself made any gifts or loans.
At the close of the interview, the investigator will probably ask to visit the taxpayer’s business premises and his home and will request access to any safe or safety deposit box. It should be noted that HMRC have no right to examine these and that it should be therefore not be seen as lack of co-operation if such a request is met by a (polite) refusal. The investigator will also request access to the adviser’s working papers. In addition to the working papers underlying the accounts under investigation, he will expect access to the working papers originated in the course of preparing the investigation report.