Does your client have to provide HMRC with documentation?

HMRC Documents

Share this content

Documentation can speed up an understanding of any matter. Understandably, clients may be nervous about handing over any document or even a copy of a document to HMRC. Will it explain everything, or will it just provoke even more questions from HMRC?

What else will HMRC do with the documents?

The law

HMRC can request documentation either in a paper or electronic format (Schedule 36 Finance Act 2008). If such a request is refused, HMRC can impose financial penalties. Key to all this is that the documentation must be reasonably required and relevant, i.e. the law does not allow HMRC to simply go a fishing exercise.

The reality

There can be many situations where taxpayers do not know the law or even may think they know the law but not in enough detail. Some taxpayers will automatically assume that if HMRC asks for documentation that they are doing so because HMRC are entitled to the documentation.


Using the sheer force of personality

HMRC can ask for documentation in a letter or by a Notice. This allows your client to consider the request and hopefully contact you for your advice before they respond. But imagine the situation where HMRC are on site and standing in front of your client. Your client is under pressure to respond in some way. Will they think of contacting you? What do they say to HMRC in order to explain the delay? Does a delay suggest your client has something to hide?

Surely HMRC wouldn’t ask for something they are not entitled to?

Well there is the adage that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So what’s the answer about providing documentation?

Your client should always be polite and respond with something like “OK, but I need to make a note of exactly what documentation HMRC is asking for and I then need to run it past my adviser first.” And then call you or me.

Anyone seeking help can call me on 07979 313 010 or…

Share this content