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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: VAT: recovery time table/indicators: missing/error return indicator

Missing/Error Return Indicator (MERI)

The MERI is updated by the enforcement suite and enables the computer to ascertain the necessary action to be taken in a particular period. This indicator will record missing, error or queried returns. It does not take account of suspended or pre-repayment claims.

The reason for the MERI being set can be established from the period details on enforcement prints, review prints or VISION, in the column - return status.

Payment customer with a missing liability

If the MERI refers to a missing liability for a period equal to or earlier than the current enforcement period - establish a liability (if possible) by issuing an assessment.

If the MERI refers to a missing liability for a period later than the current enforcement period - no action is currently necessary for the missing period. Either the computer will issue an assessment or where necessary an assessment batch will be issued at a later date to the DTO.

Repayment customer with a missing liability

The computer does not automatically assess these periods. They remain on the accounting file until a return is received or in some cases an assessment is issued by the LVO when tax is known to be due.

Queried claims

These claims are passed to the LVO as credibility queries.

Error returns

There are various reasons why an error return appears and they need correcting. Reasons for an error return may be due to an addition error, customer has not completed boxes 6 and 7, trader has put the amounts in the wrong boxes, keying error in Southend or the customer has used the wrong return.

Initial Action in Banking Operations for Error Returns

All returns are checked upon receipt. In the event of any discrepancy being found the number 7 is entered manually in the official use box at the bottom of the return, plus the appropriate letter(s) from the following list to indicate the type of error.

Code Type of error
B Correspondence received with the return
BX Any significant message or comment written on or attached to the return
D Box 3 illegible, blank or unacceptable (Banking Ops may enter the value £1.33 which causes automatic rejection by the computer).
E Unsigned repayment return with a box 3 value over £500
F Repayment return received with a remittance
H Alteration to period dates, period or registration number
K Unsigned return of any type (This code will not be the sole cause of an induced error but may accompany any one of the above).

The presence of these codes in the official use box is termed an ‘Induced Error’ and the return is rejected by the computer and sent to Accounting and Adjustments for their scrutiny.

Numerical errors are detected when a return is processed. The error indicator (MERI) is automatically set and a report is sent to Accounting and Adjustments.

Initial action in Accounting and Adjustments for Error returns

If the error can be resolved the return is corrected and re-input to the computer. Accounting and Adjustments will input unsigned payment returns up to £10,000 and unsigned repayment returns up to £500. If the error cannot be resolved or is unsigned and exceeds the limits, the return is sent back to the customer indicating the nature of the error and requesting amendment within 3 weeks. Error returns relating to period 99/99 are sent to the National Registration Service for subsequent amendment by the customer.

If an error remains uncorrected the error return is advised to the DTO.

Notification of error returns to the DTO

Errors are referred to the DTO on D570 prints through Electronic Folder (EF). The DMB Manual Processing caseworker will attempt to contact the customer to correct the error. If the caseworker is unable to contact the customer then an assessment should be raised to remove the error from the system. Further guidance can be found under DMB Manual Processing in this manual.