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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: distraint: preparing for distraint calls: receiving and recording cases for distraint

Organisation of the distraint support team

The office manager must organise and staff the distraint section, including the FF support team where relevant, to

  • meet the flow of cases and
  • ensure the distraint calls can be made promptly and a backlog is not allowed to develop.

Receiving and recording cases for distraint

Direct tax IDMS work items are generated automatically but indirect tax debts require manual involvement (at both the DMU and DMO) before they are entered onto IDMS. You will receive distraint cases on an IDMS worklist (direct tax) or a referral form (indirect taxes).

The referral form will contain details of indirect tax debts which are mature and suitable for enforcement and transmitted to the DMO as an e-mail attachment. The indirect tax debts may be shown as totals of tax, surcharges and penalties which can cover more than one period.

You should:

  • deal with the referral in accordance with DMBM655450 
  • link the debt with any existing work items for the same debtor in accordance with combined working principles.

Then, for both direct and indirect taxes:

  • ensure that you have all the papers you need and details of what preliminary enforcement action has been taken
  • check the customer’s records for useful information (past history, payment performance).

You should not make a distraint call with incomplete papers or information as this may make the call ineffective, leading to possible public criticism or complaint.

If you do not have sufficient information, or you consider that further action is necessary before you make your distraint call, return the papers to the originating section with a note of what you require.