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HMRC internal manual

Excise Assessments Interim Guidance

Best judgement: assessments deemed not to have been made to best judgement

If an assessment has not been made to best judgement it is deemed invalid, and cannot be maintained but it may be possible for the review officer or a court on appeal to reduce the amount of the assessment. In legal terms an invalid assessment has never existed.

In certain circumstances, the error may be cured and a valid assessment made, subject to the time limits applicable to the original assessment.

For example, a bulk period assessment that includes out of time accounting periods may be replaced by an assessment that falls within the time limits.

Errors solely in notification do not make an assessment invalid. They can be rectified by correctly notifying the assessment as long as re-notification falls within the statutory time limits for making an assessment.

It is recommended that when advising a trader of the correct notification or where you have made a fresh assessment you should also send separate letter of explanation to remove any doubts or confusion by the trader.

If however you feel this may be contentious, you are advised to contact the Tax Administration, Litigation and Advice (TALA) Caseworker service for technical queries webpage.