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HMRC internal manual

Decisions and appeals for National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments

Giving an opinion

An opinion is a view, reflecting the facts available at the time. An opinion is not a formal decision and therefore carries no right of appeal. It can be looked at again and changed if new facts are produced or further arguments are raised by any of the interested parties.

An opinion can be given by letter, verbally or during an official visit. Opinions can also be computer generated, for example, a quarterly bill for Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NIC), or a NIC deficiency notice. Most opinions contain recorded information and an initial response to an enquiry.

At the opinion stage take into account all of the available facts. Try to ensure that written opinions are not issued until your investigation is complete. Handle the case carefully and give clear explanations. Opinions that take account of all the relevant facts and law and have been carefully considered will underpin any subsequent formal decision.

See DANSP07400 about submissions that should be made to PAYE, SA & NIC (NIC Technical).

If further facts are made available after you give your opinion, look at your opinion again and let the customer know what your opinion is based on all the available facts.

If you need technical advice see DANSP00200.

Do not issue a formal decision as an alternative to using your information powers to get the relevant facts. See DANSP12600 for guidance about when to issue decisions.

Opinions about employment status

Status Inspectors

  • approve and sign all opinion letters drafted by the caseworker where the Employment Status Indicator (ESI) has not been used or ESI has been unable to reach an opinion,
  • provide an opinion in contentious or disputed cases.