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HMRC internal manual

COTAX Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Pursuit: enforcement: enforcement action

This subject is presented as follows.

Revenue determination superseded by a self assessment
Transfer of recovery responsibility
Payment allocation


The criteria and limitations which condition the type of enforcement action appropriate in a given case are outlined in the Enforcement Office Manual and DMB memos. In addition you can take enforcement in the Magistrates’ Court.

You may in certain circumstances need to refer the AP or APs to the Enforcement & Insolvency Service (EIS).

In all cases, you must make sure that payment has been applied for from the company before starting enforcement proceedings. The payment application should include:

  • both COTAX and non COTAX liabilities, where applicable
  • any net debit interest and late payment interest accrued to the date of issue.

Where the company’s name has been abbreviated on the COTAX record because it is more than 56 characters long or includes characters which COTAX cannot accept, you can see the full name in the notes in function VTPR (View Taxpayers Record) if the company was set up after the 11 October 2010. If the company record was set up before this date, the responsible office will advise you of the full name on form C87-3. You must use the full name in all communications with the company and on all forms relating to the proceedings.


1. You must not take any enforcement action to recover a quarterly instalment payment in advance of a charge to tax.
2. You can start enforcement action to recover a quarterly instalment payment case for an AP that ends on or after 1 July 2002 where the tax charge has been recorded and the final instalment due date has passed.
3. An outstanding amount over £100,000 could have been made LA before the due date (Word 49KB) because the return had been delivered early and the ‘PLA’ signal has been set to ‘Y’. In such cases, payment applications may not have been issued.

Revenue determination superseded by a self assessment

After a revenue determination has been made, the company may deliver a late return. The responsible office will advise the Debt Management Office by phone if:

  • it accepts the late return and supersedes the revenue determination by the self assessment and
  • the ‘LA-ENF’ signal is set to ‘Y’.

In these cases proceedings may be continued for the unpaid balance already the subject of enforcement action.

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Credit and debit interest is automatically calculated when the normal due date has passed, a tax charge is recorded and the credit / debit interest indicator (CDII) is not set. Debit interest can only arise on quarterly instalment payment cases. See COM80000 for more information on how to raise a manual interest charge. Late payment interest accrues on all COTAX liabilities except penalties and interest itself, from the normal due date until the liability is cleared.

Interest does not stop accruing on the date enforcement action is started. You therefore should not raise a late payment interest charge until the liability has been cleared in full.

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Transfer of recovery responsibility

A Debt Management Office - Recovery Section may ask another Debt Management Office to carry out a personal call, but ownership should remain in the original Debt Management Office.

If recovery is to be carried out by another Debt Management Office, you should transfer ownership to that Debt Management Office.

See COM41000 for more information.

Entries on work lists are then transferred to the new office automatically. The entry on IDMS needs to be transferred to the new office.


1. Debt Management Offices should not transfer periods of responsibilities because IDMS only recognises one Debt Management Office, including EIS (Enforcement & Insolvency Service), as being responsible for all unpaid liabilities for a Head of Duty for a particular company.
2. Whenever practical, all arrears due from a company which are working locally are transferred at the same time.
3. You must bear in mind the important principle that in England and Wales, where County Court proceedings may be necessary, a defendant must not be summoned to a distant court.

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Payment allocation

The COTAX system following the automatic payment allocation rules (Word 40KB) to allocate payment of liabilities.

If this is likely to cause problems in a proceedings case, you should allocate or reallocate payments as appropriate.

Follow the procedures in COM90000 to ensure the correct allocation.


  • COM112011 for a list of forms relevant to this subject
  • COM112012 for a list of functions to use in particular situations
  • COM112013 for legislation applying to this subject.