What is an HMRC disclosure?

If you find yourself unable to sleep at night due to unresolved tax problems, then it may that you need to consider making an HMRC disclosure. However, before deciding whether or not this process is right for you, it would seem sensible to arm you with some relevant information.

Within this area of the website; we look at:

  • The different types of HMRC disclosure available
  • How to choose the right HMRC disclosure option for you
  • The implications of making the right choice

What is a Prompted HMRC disclosure?

This is a very important distinction to understand before we begin. A prompted disclosure is defined by information volunteered to HMRC during the course of any ongoing compliance intervention. In other words where HMRC have already written to you advise that a check of self assessment or compliance check has begun and you disclose information to them that they may not have ordinarily discovered. It is deemed to a prompted disclosure because HMRC’s view is that this information may not have been disclosed to them have they not launched a tax investigation. I effect they have almost “knocked on your door” prompting you to make a disclosure to them as part of an ongoing compliance process.

Clearly there a huge benefits in making a full disclosure of all tax irregularities to HMRC when a civil tax investigation has begun. This is effectively your opportunity to come clean as part of civil procedure. Failing to do so could have severe consequences. This may not just mean higher penalties for the lack of disclosure. You could also find yourself subject to a criminal investigation for making materially false statements during the course of a civil investigation. This is a particular danger should you have signed a certificate of full disclosure; telling HMRC that you have disclosed everything to them.

Remember HMRC’s access to and interrogation of third party information systems is now more sophisticated than ever. If you are dishonest during an HMRC compliance check of any size of scale; HMRC may well find out at a later date. What started as simple check of self assessment tax return; could end up resulting in a criminal investigation if you make bad or ill informed choices. Always seek advice from a tax investigation  specialist; who has experience of the HMRC disclosure process.

What is an Unprompted disclosure?

An unprompted or voluntary disclosure is a process whereby you come forward and notify HMRC that you have identified irregularities in your tax affairs that have resulted in unpaid tax. HMRC deal with unprompted or voluntary disclosures much more sympathetically than in circumstances where they discover tax irregularities and launch an investigation under their own civil powers. You can read more about the different types of civil tax investigations launched by HMRC; by visiting each of the links below:


Firstly what are the nature of your concerns? Do you have a previously undisclosed source of income for example? Have you over claimed expenses relative to your business? Have you returned all of your income to HMRC?

These are all key questions you should be asking yourself before deciding if this disclosure process is right for you.

The most common type of disclosure cases we come across involve undisclosed income. Undisclosed rental income being the most prevalent in recent times, given the publicity afforded this by HMRC. However, any failure to notify HMRC is treated as an offence under the Taxes Act.

So if you have any source of taxable unknown to the taxman then an HMRC voluntary disclosure is definitely right for you.


E-trading has come very much under HMRC scrutiny in recent years, with the increased use of very sophisticated internet tracking technology.

If you are trading in any way on the internet and have not notified HMRC, then you should certainly be looking to come forward. An HMRC voluntary disclosure will save you the time and money associated with a full blow tax investigation.


Making an HMRC disclosure has several clear benefits if it is done properly. It is vitally important that any HMRC disclosure made is full and comprehensive. Half truths or misinformation will only result in a prolonged and expensive HMRC intervention.

Further reading

For more information on voluntary disclosures you may wish to take some time to read the following articles: