Who are you? Why we check client ID

Why we check ID

If you are a new client, we need to check your identification. If I’ve known you for many years, I still need to perform the same checks. This may seem odd but is a legal requirement. If I don’t do it, my firm is exposed to a penalty.

The legal issues are discussed in the case of N Bevan Ltd TC5404, where a penalty of £3,094 was imposed. It is worth a read.

How we do it

The usual way of undertaking ID is to take a copy of your passport or driving licence when I meet you. I may also need to confirm your home address electronically. If you have a trust or company we need to identify the trustees and ultimate beneficial owners (see “additional information” below). It is important that I fully understand your assets, business structures and transactions, under the anti-money laundering regulations.

If you (our client) are another firm of advisers, we still need your underlying client ID before we can advise you.

Updating the information

I may have to refresh the information every few years or when you undertake a transaction. This can be frustrating and cause delays but is important and a legal requirement.

Making it easier

Where I hope we differ from large firms is to make that process as easy as possible, by doing the checks myself and calling out to see you to collect the information.

Source of funds

We may also need to identify and ask you to prove your source of funds and wealth. The questions may feel intrusive but we are required to ask them by law. It may also lead to better advice by fully understanding your circumstances and history, even if not linked directly to the specific tax project.

Taking it seriously

But being a small firm does not mean that it is given a lighter touch. If you do not provide adequate ID and explain sources of funds, we will not engage you as a client.

Additional information – trusts

Where a trust is involved we will need need ID on the settlor (if still alive), trustees and main beneficiaries. This may also include national insurance numbers, to assist with  trust register updates. We will also request a family tree, copies of the trust deed(s) and documentation provided to HMRC on the trust’s creation (eg inheritance tax returns, 41G or trust registration).

Additional information – companies and HMRC tax clearances

For HMRC tax clearance applications (eg demergers, new holding companies, company purchase of own shares), we will need:

  • Approximate values of the business(es)
  • Companies House reference number
  • Corporation tax reference number
  • Brief history of the business and future plans
  • Names, addresses, UTRs and NI numbers of shareholders and photo ID
  • Classes of shares
  • If there is a shareholders’ agreement
  • Relationships/connections between the shareholders
  • Latest management accounts
  • A brief note of the commercial advantages of the transaction, from the point of view of the businesses (not the shareholders)

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