Within Finance Act 2008, HMRC Have New Powers to Inspect Premises - a few points that interested us
Inspection or Search
The new rules give HMRC powers to inspect premises but not to search them.
Interviews and Questions
HMRC do not have any powers to interview or to request answers to questions. There can be no penalty for refusing to answer a question.
However, answering a question inaccurately can result in a penalty, even if you're trying to be helpful, (because the word "document" in the act [Finance Act 2007] can include an oral reply). So, an immediate "off the cuff" response might be an expensive mistake.
HMRC cannot inspect premises that are used "solely" as a dwelling, (under this section of this act).
Can You Say No
If you refuse HMRC access, or if you ask an Inspector to leave, their instruction is that they are to leave. There is no penalty for doing this.
It is only if the visit is authorised by a tax tribunal that a penalty can be levied, for deliberately obstructing an HMRC officer during a visit.
Believed correct on date of posting. Changes may have taken place since posting. This is general guidance only and is intended to offer the user general information of interest. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service. Appropriate professional advice should be obtained in the respective accounting, tax or other professional area. Please read our craftily worded disclaimer.
Posted on 24 May 2010
Source: Tolley CPD Seminars LexisNexis
Amended by MacDougall & Co