HMRC Compliance Checks FAQ

Authorisations

Why do some actions need to be approved by an authorised officer?

This is to ensure that some of the more intrusive powers can only be used after approval by senior, experienced and specially trained officers.

18. Who will be an authorised officer and how will this work?

Each business unit will decide its own approach to authorised officers and this will be underpinned by a set of key principles as follows:

  • no self authorisations
  • independence from case worker
  • authorised officers must have the relevant training and experience to do the job
  • in some cases authorisations will be undertaken by specialised teams
  • some flexibility will be incorporated where there is a requirement to meet an urgent operational need
  • authorised officers will be accountable for their decisions

In the first 12 months the authorised officers will be restricted to senior grades so that we can monitor the use of powers needing authorisation and can improve guidance and training accordingly. If, after 12 months, we are satisfied that powers are being used appropriately the authorised officer role will be extended to others, likely to be the line managers. This is to ensure that managers are accountable for the actions of their staff.

19. Can an authorised officer self-authorise his or her own use of powers?

In legislation yes but in practice the decision has been made not to allow this for the immediate future.

The power to ask a third party about an unnamed taxpayer can only be used by specially authorised officers, who are very few in number.

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