Discrepancy Enquiries: Action: Claimant does not respond to opening letter
If the claimant does not respond to your opening letter by the date specified, you should:
- check to see if the information has been received in your office, but not yet passed to you
- consider whether there may be any circumstances preventing the claimant from replying, for example a known illness, or the likelihood of temporary absence on holiday.
Where appropriate you should contact the claimant(s) by phone to remind them of the need to deal with your query. If you think there is a problem you can allow a further week or exceptionally more than this with your manager’s agreement.
If there isn’t a good reason for the delay or the claimant still doesn’t respond after more time you will make a S19 decision using HMRC’s information to determine the award.
If you are working an income discrepancy enquiry and also queried the PY-1 income you will also make a S20 (4) decision revising the PY-1 award.
If you are working an income discrepancy enquiry and also queried the CY estimate you will also make a S16 decision revising the CY award.
You should write to the claimant to let them know your decision. You should always write to them even if you have spoken to them and explained the position on the phone.
Use the standard letter template TCC60. The letter tells the claimant your decision to amend their award. It also explains what will happen about recovering any overpaid tax credits.
Remember that once you have closed your enquiry another enquiry cannot be opened unless the discovery provisions apply, see CCM13000.
Where the claim has been made by a couple in a joint household, only one letter should be sent addressed to both claimants. When sending out joint letters the claimants 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 must still be sent to each claimant.
If the claimant has authorised an agent to act for them remember to send a copy of the letter to the agent.
You should take the necessary system action to amend the award as soon as possible after you send the letter, and close the case on TCW on the same day you amend the award. The system will send out a new award notice. The claimant then has 30 days to appeal against your decision.
If the claimant appeals, see CCM17540. If the claimant does not appeal you can close the case.