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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment: the legal framework

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Enquiries into Tax Returns: power to enquire into Tax Returns

HMRC is entitled to enquire into any tax return

Section 9A(1)

Under the self assessment system an officer of the Board has the right to make enquiries into any tax return.

This right applies to the original tax return, and to any subsequent amendment to the return made by the taxpayer.

It applies in all cases, including those in which the tax liability is actually calculated by HMRC. In such cases HMRC calculation is made on the basis that the information in the tax return is correct, but no checks (beyond those described in SALF402) will be made to confirm this at the time the calculation is made.

Condition for making enquiry: taxpayer must be notified

The only condition that the officer of the Board must satisfy before commencing an enquiry is that he must give the taxpayer written notice of his intention to enquire into the tax return.

If the tax return is not selected for enquiry within the specified time limits HMRC do not normally have the right to open an enquiry at any later date. The tax return and its associated self assessment will be treated as ‘final’. (But see Enquiries after time limit for notice of enquiry has elapsed in SALF404.)

HMRC are under no obligation to give notice that a particular tax return has been accepted and that no enquiries will be made.

Section 9A(3)

Only one notice of enquiry may be issued in respect of any tax return or amendment.

Time limits for notice of enquiry

Section 9A(2) & (6)

The written notice of enquiry must be given within a specified period of time following the delivery of the tax return (or the amendment to the return).

Where a tax return for any tax year is delivered, or an amendment is made, on or before the filing date for that year, the period in which the notice can be given will be up to 12 months from the date the return is delivered.