The Revenue said this was part of the government's commitment to a fair tax system.
According to a Revenue statement: 'The proposals in an Inland Revenue Technical Note would enable tax investigators, in cases where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting serious tax fraud, to apply for a judicial order requiring people to supply them with relevant documents. This would reduce substantially the need to enter and search premises for evidence.'
The Revenue wants comments on the proposals by 31 January 2000.
The proposed new power requiring the production of documents would only be used in criminal investigations of suspected serious tax fraud. It would be for a stipendiary magistrate or a circuit judge (or equivalent authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland) to decide whether to make an order requiring a person to supply the Inland Revenue with documents relevant to its investigation.
At present, in order to obtain the evidence needed for the purposes of a criminal investigation, the Inland Revenue sometimes finds it necessary to obtain warrants to search their premises, as well as those of the suspect, to seize evidence.
The use of a search warrant can be a source of considerablecommercial embarrassment to them as well as a cumbersome procedure, according to the Inland Revenue. The availability of the proposed power would nearly always avoid the need for searches of this kind.
The Technical Note is available on the internet at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk
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