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Email retention period

HMRC PAYE check - Email retention period

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One of my clients has received an HMRC PAYE check letter for a year, 2018, when he was with another accounting firm. Along with other items, the letter asks about the details of emails or any other  communication which was done between my client and his previous accountant. My client hasn't got the emails with him anymore. He reached out to his previous accountant and he came back with the same response. I was a bit taken aback by that. Shouldn't my client and his previous accountant have saved the email/hard copies for a 6 year period? Historically how has HMRC viewed this?



Replies (4)

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By 356B
25th Feb 2021 16:53

In theory you're correct. However, HMRC don't keep emails or any records for more than two years, so I don't think it's fair for them to expect anyone else to do so.
Previous accountants should, however keep correspondence, or if they don't, offer it to the client as part of the handover.

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By Wanderer
25th Feb 2021 17:51

Just because HMRC give you a list doesn't mean you have slavishly work through it and give everything.

With any HMRC enquiry I generally give the information I think will bring it to a conclusion quickly. Can't see the relevance of emails etc.

Just ignore that part of the request, give them what you think they need.

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By Paul Crowley
25th Feb 2021 18:24

I keep all for ever

But I would resist any request from HMRC to provide copies without a good justification

Sounds like either a fishing expedition, or they know something concerning a specific bit of advice.

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By SteveHa
25th Feb 2021 22:31

I'm not so sure HMRC have any right to ask for emails exchanged between accountant and client. Isn't that protected by professional privilege?

The emails do not form a part of the facts used to prepare accounts/Tax Returns etc. They form a part of the process to establish those facts, but that's a different thing altogether, and the information that HMRC require should be available independently.

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