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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Undisclosed Partners: No reply to opening letter

Where there is no reply to your opening letter you must carefully review the evidence held. We cannot terminate an award on the grounds that there is a partner purely on the basis that they live at or use the same address. However, we can suspend current payments if we have sent them notification via the TCC1130 and if after 30 days there is no contact from the customer, we can terminate the award. Otherwise we can only terminate the award if, in our opinion, they are living together as husband and wife (LTAHAW), living together as civil partners (LTACP) or living together as a same sex couple (LTAASSC) and to reach such a decision we must have considered the five criteria shown at CCM15040.

Note: The Marriage (same sex couples) Act 2013 extended marriage to same sex couples. See TCTM06100 for the definition of a couple.

Failure to reply to the opening letter may lead you to suspect the customer has something to hide but decision making must be based on facts or evidence and not suspicions or assumptions. However, there will be cases where, in the absence of an explanation, there is strong evidence in the Standard Intelligence Package which could lead you to conclude the customer is living with an undisclosed partner.

Where the customer has not replied to the opening letter, TCC2, you must consider the guidance at CCM15380. If you are unsure whether the evidence is strong enough to make a decision to terminate the award you may want to discuss this with your manager. If this is a particularly difficult case your manager might want to refer to your Claimant Compliance Group Manager. If after considering CCM15380:

  • a.  there is not enough evidence to make a LTAHAW, LTACP or LTAASSC decision but you believe the case should be pursued - you and your risk team should consider whether it would be possible to gather further evidence (see CCM15200) and then look again at CCM15380. If this is not possible or there is no other evidence issue a formal notice requesting the outstanding information and documents.
  • b.  There is evidence to support a LTAHAW, LTACP or LTAASSC decision, write to the customer to say:
    • They did not reply to your letter of [date]
    • You have information to suggest there is another adult living at their address and that in the absence of any other information you have concluded they are living together as husband and wife (or they are living together as civil partners/a married couple)
    • Unless you hear from them within 14 days of the date of your letter you will be terminating their award. They will have a right of appeal against the formal notice of your decision.
      Then BF your papers for 14 days.
    • If there is no reply, make the decision.
    • If the customer responds by telephone you will need to consider what they say and if necessary ask for their documents and information to help you make your decision. If the customer responds by sending in the information previously requested you will need to consider the evidence.
  • c.  You have gone past the 5th so can no longer make your decision using S19 or S16 but you have the evidence to support a LTAHAW, LTACP or LTAASSC decision. Write to the customer to say:
    • They did not reply to your letter of [date]
  • d.  You have information to suggest there is another adult living at their address and that in the absence of any other information you have concluded they are living together as husband and wife (or they are living together as civil partners/a married couple)
    • Unless you hear from them within 14 days of the date of your letter you will stop their payments. Payments will not be reinstated until you receive the information that you requested in your opening letter [date]
    • Also say that in order to complete your check you will need them to respond to the S17 notice that has been issued and they should send the declaration or phone you to provide the details needed to finalise their claim
    • If they are having difficulty providing the information then they should phone you to discuss