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HMRC internal manual

Complaint Handling Guidance

Classifying the outcome of complaints: Upheld

A case will normally be classified as “upheld” if you uphold a key part of the complaint that the department had not accepted and adequately put right beforehand.


  • At tier 1, you accept for the first time that the customer met all their responsibilities under CoP26, but that HMRC failed in theirs, so you give up the disputed overpayment in full. The tier 1 outcome is upheld.
  • Tier 1 considers an ESC A19 case and decides not to give up the underpayment of tax. At tier 1, the case is not upheld. At tier 2, you decide that the tier 1 decision was incorrect and you agree to give up the underpayment. The tier 2 outcome is upheld.
  • A complaint is upheld at tier 1, and an underpayment of tax is given up. But the customer remains unhappy and escalates to tier 2 because their request for a worry and distress payment was ignored at tier 1. At tier 2, you decide that while tier 1 were correct to give up the underpayment of tax, they did indeed ignore the worry and distress factor. You decide that a worry and distress payment is appropriate in the circumstances, and authorise a payment of £50, and £15 for poor complaints handling. The complaint as presented to tier 2 is upheld. (Note that a payment for poor complaint handling is only included in this example because tier 1 positively ignored the issue.)