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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Working the Enquiry: Opening Enquiries into Returns for Subsequent Years

This guidance applies to any case where an SA year or years are under enquiry. Sometimes a taxpayer will file a return or returns for subsequent years when an earlier year or earlier years’ returns are still under enquiry.

Aspect Enquiries

Where the enquiry underway is an aspect enquiry, the decision whether to open an enquiry into the later year’s return will depend on the recurring nature of the point(s) under enquiry. If the particular point does not feature in the later return(s), you will only need to open an enquiry if there are other areas of risk that you need to address. If the point is repeated in later years’ returns, you should follow the guidance below on full enquiries.

Full Enquiries

Where the enquiry underway is a full enquiry, it is likely that any errors or omissions uncovered in the earlier year’s return will be repeated in later years’. You may therefore need to open enquiries into any subsequent returns submitted during the course of your original enquiry, to prevent the later year becoming final.

You must judge the timing of the opening notice carefully. You should avoid opening an enquiry as a matter of routine, because if you do, you may be vulnerable to an application under S28A(6) to complete the enquiry EM1975+. If you consider you need specific information relating to the later year(s), you should open the enquiry at the most appropriate time, basing your decision on the factors you would normally take into account. Where you need to open an enquiry simply to keep the later year open, you should delay the issue of the opening notice until a couple of months before the enquiry window is due to close.

MCG726 tells you how to record such enquiries.

Nature of Information To Be Requested

The information you request in your opening letter will depend on the stage reached in the enquiry into the earlier year’s return. If you are awaiting documents or other information relating to the earlier year (for example, bank account statements) you will probably want to request these for the later year also. But if the earlier year’s enquiry is close to settlement, you may simply want to ask, for comments on the effect on the later year’s return of your proposals for settlement of the earlier year.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Use of Discovery Provisions

There may be occasions when an open enquiry window for the post-enquiry year exists, but it is easier and quicker to make a discovery assessment or recognise the ability to do so, in the terms of a contract settlement. EM3265 and EM3268 give examples of such circumstances.