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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

Opening and Working Enquiries: Enquiry Window

S19(4) imposes strict time limits for opening enquiries into the entitlement of a person or persons to a tax credit for a tax year. This is variable and depends on a number of factors:

  • whether the figure (or figures, if the claim is from a couple) of income they reported after the end of the year was a final figure or an estimate
  • on what date the final decision on entitlement was made
  • whether the customer (or either or both of the customers where the claim is from a couple) was obliged to make an SA return (an SA taxpayer)

The period during which an enquiry can be started is commonly referred to as the enquiry window. An enquiry cannot be started either before the window has opened or after the window has closed. But once the enquiry has been opened, there is no statutory restriction on the length of time it can last (but see CCM12300-CCM12435 on the customer’s right to apply for the enquiry to be closed).

There are two parts to the enquiry window:-

the date the enquiry window opens - see CCM12030 

the date the enquiry window closes - see CCM12060 

The length of the enquiry window will vary from case to case. In some cases it will be more than 12 months, in others it will be less than 12 months and in some cases there will be no enquiry window at all - see CCM12080.