Access to tax agent files: New provisions

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Schedule 38 FA 2012 not only contains sanctions for dishonest tax agents but gives powers to HMRC to obtain files. From 1 April part 3 Sch.38 will replace S.20A of the TMA 1970 with a structure similar to the old law but with important new wording, explains John Flood.

To get papers HMRC must first obtain a ‘file access order’. To secure an order a tax agent has to have been the subject to a determination by the FTT that his conduct has been dishonest or the allegations were not contested. Alternatively, HMRC can rely on a conviction for an offence of dishonesty or fraud provided that this occurred after the person became a tax agent but applies whatever the capacity in which the offence occurred.

HMRC may seek “relevant documents” from the tax agent or a person believed to be holding them. These are...

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