HMRC now have wide powers to gather information from individuals and businesses, and in some circumstances will issue formal information requests to third parties.

HMRC have a statutory process with regards to what information they are allowed to ask for from when and why they need to ask for it.

When an information notice is received it is important to ensure that it has been validly issued and that the request is reasonable and not unduly onerous. Where HMRC request information, they should have regard to the requirements and considerations as set out in their own guidelines and instructions as well as the requirements of the legislation.

We have extensive experience in dealing with information notices having worked with clients and HMRC on the fine details, materiality and usefulness of these. We take control and manage the process to minimise the interruptions that any form of tax investigation causes to a client’s life and business and ensure that their interests are best protected.

If you receive an HMRC information notice, it is important that it is not ignored and that you seek specialist advice as (if validly issued) you are legally required to provide the documents/information requested therein.

If you fail to comply with an information notice within the agreed time limit then you may have to pay an initial £300 penalty.  If non-compliance continues, additional penalties of up to £60 per day can be levied. Alternatively, HMRC can apply to an independent tribunal to levy a penalty based on the amount of tax due.

Similarly, if the request made in the information notice is considered unreasonable or not relevant then you can appeal to an independent tribunal.  Proper representation of the case at a tribunal maximises the chances of success and trying to do this whilst also running a business/practice is difficult. Specialist advice is vital for a successful challenge and managing HMRC.

Exceptionally, HMRC can approach third parties for documents and/or information without your knowledge or consent. To do so, HMRC must first apply to an independent tribunal for approval. You will not be informed of HMRC’s application and, therefore, will not be able to ask the tribunal to refuse HMRC’s application based on any representations we could make.

If this happens, please get in touch as it is likely that HMRC considered that you would not have co-operated had they contacted you directly, or that they are building a case to investigate under one of their more intrusive Codes of Practice or, more seriously, building a case to criminally investigate. Either way, it is important to take control of the situation to ensure that your interests are best protected.


At Lancaster Knox our Tax Investigation specialists are industry recognised and have dealt with hundreds of enquiries and investigations by the UK authorities over the years, including information notices.  We are adept at managing interactions with HMRC to ensure that the process runs smoothly and that the client’s interests are best protected.

We also appreciate that, often, this is the first potentially contentious interaction that the client has ever had with HMRC and that this can be a very stressful and difficult experience.

Lancaster Knox will work with you and, where relevant, your current adviser to ensure that HMRC do not seek to obtain information they are not entitled to, that the process is as unobtrusive as possible and give you peace of mind that any historical tax inaccuracies are resolved as soon as possible.