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Updated on 6 April 2024

Taxpayer information notice

We outline the rights and safeguards the law gives you when HMRC have given you a formal notice asking you for certain information and documents to check your tax position.

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HMRC’s request must be reasonable

HMRC can only require you to show them something that they reasonably need in order to check your tax position. However, Finance Act 2021 includes provisions which allow HMRC to ask you for information for the purpose of collecting a tax debt. If they ask you to produce information by a particular time, or at a particular place, that request too must be reasonable.

Copy documents

You may produce a copy of any document that HMRC ask you for, unless the notice specifies that you must produce the original, or HMRC make a written request for the original.

What HMRC may not ask you for

The law does not permit HMRC to ask you for:

  • Documents that you do not have in your possession and cannot easily get hold of
  • Anything to do with a pending appeal about your tax
  • Personal records (that is, relating to your physical or mental health, or your spiritual or personal welfare)
  • Journalistic material (if you are a professional journalist)
  • A document the whole of which is more than six years old, unless authorised by a senior HMRC official
  • Information or documents relating to a person who has died if more than four years have elapsed since the death
  • Anything that is confidential between you and your legal adviser

However, HMRC may ask for a document that contains personal information about you with the relevant passages blocked out.

HMRC do not normally have the right to ask for information or documents relating to a period for which you have made a tax return, but they may do so if there is an open formal enquiry into the return or they have reason to suspect that you have underpaid tax or been given too much tax relief. If you operate a business, they may also ask for such a document if they reasonably need it for checking your VAT or PAYE.

Right of appeal

You normally have the right to appeal to the tribunal against a notice to produce information. Or you can appeal against anything the notice requires you to do. You can also ask for HMRC to carry out an independent internal review.

If you appeal, you must do so in writing within 30 days of the date of the information notice. You must give your form or letter (the ‘notice of appeal’) to the HMRC officer who gave you the information notice. In some circumstances you are permitted to make a late appeal.

No right of appeal

You do not have a right of appeal if:

  • You are being asked to produce your statutory records (unfortunately the law does not say what ‘statutory records’ are, but HMRC provide some further information on GOV.UK)
  • The notice says that it has already been approved by the tribunal (see below)

If the tribunal has approved the notice, you have the right to check that:

  • The application to the tribunal was made by an authorised HMRC officer
  • You have been given a reasonable opportunity to make representations
  • The tribunal has been given a summary of your representations
  • The tribunal is satisfied that giving the notice is justified

More information

HMRC’s factsheet CC/FS2: Compliance checks: information notices is available on GOV.UK.

There is general information about your rights and responsibilities in relation to HMRC in the HMRC Charter.

HMRC’s factsheet HMRC1: HM Revenue & Customs decisions – what to do if you disagree sets out information about making appeals against HMRC decisions.

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