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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Records: maintain taxpayer record: dormant records

Once an SA record has been set up it will remain on the SA database indefinitely. It can be made dormant, by preventing the issue of future SA returns, but is still available to re-activate if required at any time. The national insurance number (NINO) should be validated using TBS before the dormant SA record is reactivated.

On following the Action Guide ‘Set Up Individual Record’ (SAM100221) you may find that an SA record exists but is dormant. You should reactivate that record using the action Guide at SAM120120 onwards.

An ‘Exit’ letter (SA251) will be automatically issued to the taxpayer and any acting agent when the Last Year Of Return signal is set. If the address is RLS or the taxpayer is deceased or where an SA record relates to a person or body that has been appointed to act in a capacity for the taxpayer, for example Executor or Official Receiver, the ‘Exit’ letter will not be automatically generated. Where you make an SA record dormant for a capacity case you will need to write to them explaining your actions and where a 64-8 is held you should send a copy of any letter issued to the agent.

The issue of this output can be inhibited by setting the ‘SA Entry / Exit Inhibited’ signal.

Taxpayer details

It is possible to maintain a taxpayer’s personal details on the SA record even though the computer record is dormant. When maintaining dormant records you must consider whether the record should be re-activated.

When a dormant record is re-activated the taxpayer’s details held on the SA record may be out of date. It is therefore important to review all aspects of the SA record and update the details if necessary. In particular the PAYE record should contain the latest Agent details.

Overnight the CID framework is notified of an SA record that has been re-activated. If there is a known PAYE record for the taxpayer the employer reference will flow back to update the SA record and the UTR will flow to PAYE to update the record.

Note: Where you are re-activating a dormant record and the first SA year is not CY, you will need to wait 3 days for the Start Year to flow to the NPS record. You should then follow the Action Guide (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) to set the SA Start Year back to the appropriate year. For more information regarding reactivating an SA record, see the Action Guide at SAM101093.

Individuals with a live PAYE record

For individuals only from October 2012, where you have accepted that a return for a particular year is no longer required and there is a live PAYE record for that year, you will be able to prompt automatic reconciliation on the PAYE record by changing the ‘No SA Criteria’ indicator to ‘Y’ using the function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY (for years 2010-2011 onwards). If this is not done, there will be no check of the customers’ tax liability on either SA or NPS for that year.

Note: The indicator cannot be set to ‘Y’ if a return has already been logged and/or captured for that year, or a determination exists for the year. You should also note that use of Create Return Charge Nil will not prevent the signal from being set. However, if the indicator is set by mistake, it will be possible to unset it but only where a return has been issued and/or logged and/or captured for that year.

Reactivated after refinement

When a record is re-activated after refinement, and the customer has specifically asked to remain in SA, the Automatic Closure Inhibited signal should be set to prevent the record being refined the following year, and an SA Note made of the reason why the signal is set. The issue of the SA250 (Welcome letter) should also be inhibited because the wording is not appropriate in these circumstances.

Reactivated from NPS work items

From October 2013, where there is a UTR on the NPS record, the system will, in certain circumstances, attempt to reactivate a dormant SA record from NPS Work management items WMI217 and WMI236. Guidance can be found in the Action Guides (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

From April 2014, where there is a UTR on the NPS record, the system will, in certain circumstances, attempt to reactivate a dormant SA record from NPS Work Management item. In these cases, refer to the Potential SA Cases Action Guide

Records which are reviewed for closure but need to remain in SA

There will be cases where a customer has contacted us to say that they no longer satisfy SA criteria but, during a review of the information given, we find that the customer should remain in SA and that the outstanding tax return(s) is (are) still due. No action will have been taken to close the record and a letter will not have been issued advising the customer that we no longer require a return so the original notice to file still stands.

In these cases, the customer must be advised that the return is still required by sending SEES letter SA818 which will tell them that the original filing and payment dates apply and will give information about how to file their return.

Where the customer has been delayed in sending the return back because we were reviewing his circumstances and is charged penalties, he may wish to claim a reasonable excuse due to that delay. In these cases you should refer to the guidance for reasonable excuse at SAM10090.

In cases where we have already closed the record and advised the customer that the return is no longer required, but the SA year needs to be reactivated later, follow the guidance ‘Reactivating the SA year’ at SAM120120 and ‘Reactivating an SA year’ (Action Guide) at SAM120121 for tax years 2010-11 and 2011-12 and/or SAM120122 for tax years 2012-13 onwards.

Address RLS and no later address found

It is common for an SA record to be made dormant in the absence of a usable address for the taxpayer. When an address is RLS the Tracing Unit at Banking Operations will be asked to trace a later address. Only cases within Integrated Debt Management System (IDMS) are actively worked. See subject ‘Address RLS’ (SAM101030) in this section.

Where no later address is found, the Tracing Unit will arrange to

  • Set the Last Year of Return signal

And ask the office with responsibility for processing work to

  • Enter a nil charge, or a charge equal to the payments on account, on the SA record for any year for which a return is outstanding (to clear the reason for an RLS Cases work item)

Note: To do this, follow the guidance at SAM101092 to make the record dormant and SAM120115 to withdraw the notice to file and to update the record.

Where there are outstanding debts, the Tracing Unit or Debt Management (DM) office will write off the debts under Type 1 (Gone Unknown).

Note: If you are notified of the taxpayer’s new address at a future date it is important that you check the function VIEW STATEMENT for the message ‘Please note there is a remission/write off types present on the SA record’. Other than for remission types 5b and 10, you must send a WAM to ‘London North West Recovery’ DM office to review the remission or write off to avoid unnecessary revenue delay in collecting correctly due debts.

IDMS Cases

A record can also be made dormant at the pursuit of returns stage in the DM office where

  • The taxpayer claims to have ceased to receive trading and / or other income and is not liable to SA


  • The recovery officer is satisfied that the return for the year of cessation has been received and completion of subsequent year(s) returns is not required

Revenue Loss

A dormant record will hold details of any remissions or write-offs made. Function VIEW STATEMENT will display the message ‘Please note there is a remission posted on this account’.

You will need to consider whether the remission or write-off has any bearing on your proposed course of action, and / or whether the remission or write-off should be cancelled.

DM will not cancel remission types 5b and 10 so where only these remission types are present you do not need to contact DM as the remissions will be left in place.

The types of remission or write-off where cancellation is most likely to be necessary are

  • Type 1 - Gone unknown
  • Type 4 - Not worth further pursuit
  • Type 7 - Gone abroad

On re-activating a dormant record that holds remissions or write-offs (the advisory message will be displayed as above), the office with responsibility for processing work should send a WAM to ‘London North West Recovery’ DM office to review these for possible cancellation.

In the unlikely event that a Type 2 write off is present and you are considering reactivating the record, contact DM Estates and Trusts to check your action can go ahead.

Payments on account

If there was no SA liability for the year previous to the year for which you want to re-activate the SA record, you need take no action concerning payments on account.

If the year for which you want to re-activate the SA record immediately follows the last year for which there was SA liability, you must review the payments on account. In this situation the taxpayer is liable to make payments on account based on the liability shown on the return for the previous year.

Where those payments on account have been reduced to nil, because the source ceased, you will have to restore them. The source giving rise to those payments on account has no relevance. The onus is on the taxpayer to claim a reduction if he or she believes the sums due are excessive.