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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Procedure in the VOA: initial appraisal

The VOA (IHTM23002) use the initial appraisal to risk assess and filter all cases using a two-stage process.

The first stage consists of identifying straightforward work to be ‘fast-tracked’ and thereby to maximise available resources to focus on more complex, and resource-intensive, work. ‘Fast-track’ cases comprise those valuations that are acceptable as offered, or that can be agreed, following minimal exchanges with the taxpayer. Those valuations that are acceptable for the ‘fast track’ will be returned within 20 working days of receipt.

The second stage involves valuations that cannot be accepted on initial appraisal being categorised into 4 graduated ‘work bands’, reflecting

  • complexity
  • the number of properties
  • the valuation difference; and
  • the prospective tax at stake

A specified amount of time - that expected to be required to complete the valuation exercise - will be allocated immediately. If the initial time allocated proves insufficient the VOA will consider whether the issues, and potential tax at stake, warrant further time being allocated to the valuation. This may trigger an interim report, or phone call, to the IHT caseworker, to discuss tactics and a timetable for completion of the valuation.

The VOA instructions/procedures should ensure that

  • Stage 1 is completed within 20 working days in all cases.
  • For every case that cannot be accepted/completed by the end of the Stage 1, an initial letter should always be issued to the parties

    • either to arrange inspection/make necessary further enquiries, or
    • to issue an acknowledgement giving details of the appointed valuer and the anticipated timetable for follow-up contact

The Stage 2 time allocation process, the mechanism for determining whether further time should be allocated, if necessary (see above) and close management scrutiny of internal VOA procedures should each contribute to provide focussed reports that take proper, and full, account of the risk-based compliance strategy.