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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Charging penalties: suspending penalties: setting the suspension period

It is important you set the correct suspension period. This must be long enough to allow the customer to meet the specific conditions of the suspension. When setting the suspension period you need to consider how long it will take the customer to put a system or records in place to prevent the inaccuracy recurring. The maximum suspension period is 24 months. See CH83170. If you are unsure of what period to set, discuss this with your manager before informing the person.

The maximum suspension period should only be given in exceptional cases, where the actions to be taken by the person, to put in the correct processes, are going to be complex and prolonged.

The suspension period you will normally set should be sufficient to enable the person to show you they have improved their record keeping and systems and that those improvements are being maintained. By maintaining the improvements, the person will avoid repeating the careless inaccuracies and becoming liable to further penalties.