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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

Penalties and interest: guidance or advice is incorrect - failure to notify change of circumstances

Where a customer fails to notify certain changes of circumstances within 1 calendar month of the change they are liable to a penalty of up to £300. However, we do not charge a penalty where the customer has a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the change. If our guidance incorrectly states the specified changes of circumstances or the conditions attached to them, then the customer will have a reasonable excuse for not notifying the change. If there is a reasonable excuse you will not charge the penalty on this occasion - see CCM10170.

The customer might say they have already notified the change to an Enquiry Centre, a telephone contact centre or in a letter. If we received the notification of the change, the award should have been amended. If the customer says they telephoned or visited an Enquiry Centre but the award was not changed see CCM10610.

If the customer says the notification was in writing but the award was not changed, you should explain we keep copies of all such notifications and then take steps to retrieve it from remote storage following the guidance in TCM. If there is no trace of the notification it would be reasonable to ask them why they did not contact us again when they did not receive a response but ultimately, it may be a question of whether or not you believe them and if you think you could defend a penalty successfully on appeal.

If the customer says they were advised by a telephone contact centre or Enquiry Centre that they did not need to notify the particular change of circumstances see CCM10610 above.

Note: From 30 June 2014 all HMRC Enquiry Centres will have closed and a new service of specialist help over the phone, supported by a mobile team of face to face advisors will be introduced. The new telephone and mobile advisory service will be available through normal helplines.