ICAEW: Business raids without a warrant must not happen

The ICAEW is stepping up the pressure on HM Revenue & Customs to withdraw
new rules which will allow the taxman powers to swoop unexpectedly on businesses
without a warrant after the Finance Bill, published yesterday, showed the
institute’s earlier requests were not heeded.

The ICAEW said it was concerned that the provisions ‘appear to be aimed
primarily towards investigations of a “criminal type” nature, as distinct from
civil inquiries into a taxpayer’s affairs’.

But the chancellor has argued that the proposals are merely matching the
Revenue’s powers with those given to Customs & Excise before the two merged
in 2005.

However the institute insists the provisions ‘give far too much power to HMRC
without adequate safeguards for taxpayers’. reported the

The institute raised concerns over the power to enter business premises with
only a day’s notice; the ability to mount ‘fishing expeditions’ by inspecting
the position of a taxpayer before a return is made; and the right of HMRC to
dictate record-keeping requirements.

The ICAEW is also worried about the lack of safeguards, such as rights of
appeal and the increasing tendency of HMRC to seek broad powers in primary
The institute also wants to see a right of appeal against the power to inspect
assets and premises.

Further reading:

the Telegraph’s story

PM tries to calm troubled tax

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