If the taxpayer or accountant requires a copy of the note you should provide one. This is a promise in our Code of Practice on Investigations.It is only fair to give the taxpayer an opportunity of seeing what you have recorded.
- Even the best Inspectors make mistakes. It is possible to take only basic notes during the meeting, which can be misinterpreted later. Alternatively, you may mishear or misunderstand things. It is far better for any misunderstandings to be corrected as soon as possible. If a point is important, it is a good idea to repeat to the taxpayer during the meeting exactly what you understand he or she has said. You may even wish to record a particular point verbatim.
- If there is to be dispute about particular facts it is preferable that this emerges sooner, especially if it is likely to be material. You might feel that the taxpayer may dispute the notes because he or she realises that the facts brought out invalidate the accounts. However, this would have happened in due course – for instance once a business model or capital statement had been prepared. It is far better to face the objections while the meeting is fresh in your memory and you can call for corroborative evidence.
The value of a signed record is obvious in preventing later disputes about what was said. If the taxpayer refuses to sign and does not provide a credible reason for the refusal, this may cast doubt on the accuracy of what was said. On occasions a taxpayer who lied to you will not be prepared to sign a formal statement which includes those lies.
However, it is not worth losing much time in getting notes agreed. This can distract from the main purpose of the investigation – to satisfy yourself concerning the true level of profits. It is up to you to decide how important it is to obtain a signed record in any individual case. If you anticipate problems, but feel that it will be vital to have a firm record of what was said, ask a colleague to sit in and take notes. The person need not be a trained Inspector – a trainee is often ideal. He or she can then prepare their own record or sign the notes which you have written. If there is a dispute later about what was said and the matter goes to appeal, the other officer will be able to confirm the accuracy of your account of what took place.