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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

Examinations: Examinations following a change of circumstances: Penalty Cases: Opening letter

Your first step is to decide whether a penalty might be appropriate, see CCM4310 

  • if a penalty might be appropriate - you will continue as shown below
  • if a penalty is not appropriate - see CCM4365 

Your first contact with the claimant(s) to open the examination must always be in writing. For cases where there may be a penalty you must use the standard template letter TCC71.

The letter formally opens your examination and tells the claimant what aspect of their notification you are checking and what information you need. It then tells them they will not receive any additional payments until they provide the information. It also tells them we will be charging a penalty and asks them to tell us anything they want us to take into account.

You must enclose a copy of WTC/FS2 which explains the examination process to the claimant and also enclose a copy of the Tax Credits - Penalty decisions leaflet which tells them more about penalties.

Where there is a joint claim, even if the discrepancy only relates to one of the claimants, you need to send separate copies of the letter and WTC/FS2 and the Tax Credits - Penalty decisions leaflet to both claimants.

You should always state the date by which the claimant should get back to you and allow at least 30 days. For example, if you wrote on 06/08/08, you would specify 05/09/08 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 claimant is abroad or incapacitated and it means they will not be able to reply within 30 days.

If the claimant phones you to discuss your letter make full notes of everything they say and keep a record in your papers. If the claimant has fully answered your queries over the phone they do not need to reply in writing. If the claimant wants to discuss the penalty you will need to refer the call to a Band O.

On the receipt of the reply or at the BF date see CCM4770