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HMRC internal manual

Excise Assessments Interim Guidance

Notifying assessments - forms, letters and schedules: checking and countersigning Forms EX601 and EX602

Form EX 601 - second signature

Once completed and signed by the assessing officer, form EX 601 should also be signed by a second officer. As there is no requirement for assessment under-declarations to be authorised, the second signature may be that of a checking officer.

The functions of the checking officer are to check that

  • the EX 601, explanatory letter and any schedule have been completed correctly and accurately, and
  • arithmetical calculations are accurate.

This process is particularly important as, unlike in other regimes, there is no computer validation of the EX 601 prior to its issue.

It is not the responsibility of the checking officer to confirm whether or not the assessment is technically correct. The checking officer may be a colleague, of any job band, who has checked the documents and calculations for accuracy or a line manager who has carried out these functions during the processing of the case.

In addition to the above checks, local procedures should ensure that (where practical to do so) line managers examine assessments for technical accuracy, consistency and use of best judgement.

Authorisation (a countersignature) is always required when an EX 601 contains an over-declaration.

Countersignatures are an internal management assurance tool and do not form part of the making of an assessment. A countersignature is not required to make an assessment.

Form EX 602 - ‘checked by’ and authorising signature

Form EX 602 makes provision for both an issuing officer and an authorising officer to sign.

Authorisation (a countersignature) is always required when an assessment is being reduced or withdrawn. The authorising officer should also carry out the functions of the checking officer (as described above for Form EX 601) or ensure that they have been carried out by a third party. In cases where the reduction or withdrawal follows a departmental review, the review officer should countersign the form.

See EAIG25000 for further guidance on Form EX602.