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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Discrepancy Examinations: Action: Opening letter where there is no penalty

Your first contact with the customer (or customers) to open the examination must always be in writing. If the examination will cover more than one aspect of the claim, see CCM17220 before preparing your opening letter.

For pre-award cases you must use the standard letter template TCC83. For post-award cases you must use the standard letter template at TCC50.

The letter formally opens your examination and tells the customer what aspect of their award you are checking and what information you have. It then tells them you will be amending their claim or award to reflect the information you hold and if they do not agree with this information they must contact you within 21 days of the date of the letter.

For post-award examinations you must also enclose a copy of WTC/FS2 which explains the examination process to the customer.

Where the claim has been made by a couple in a joint household, only one opening letter should be sent addressed to both customers even if the query only relates to one of the customers. When sending out joint letters the customers must still be part of a couple and residing at the same address. If they are part of a couple but residing at different addresses or no longer part of a couple, then a separate letter and a separate WTC/FS2 must still be sent to each customer.

For pre-award examinations there is no need to send a WTC/FS2 if there is no penalty being considered.

You should always state the date by which the customer should get back to you and allow at least 21 days. For example, if you wrote on 06/08/08, you would specify 27/08/08 for a response. If you are aware that postal delays are likely, for example there is a strike or it is close to Christmas, allow a few extra days. Also allow a longer time if you know for example the customer is abroad or incapacitated and it means they will not be able to reply within 21 days.

Your next action will depend on the response to the opening letter. The customer will either:

  • reply agreeing that our information is correct and their claim or award should be adjusted, see CCM17250 
  • reply disagreeing with our information and/or providing alternative information, see CCM17260 
  • not respond, see CCM17380.

If the customer phones you to discuss your letter make full notes of everything they say and keep a record in your papers. If the customer has fully answered your queries over the phone they do not need to reply in writing.