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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

Returns: individuals returns: introduction

On receipt of return
Redirecting returns where the responsible office is elsewhere
Prepare for capture
Capture return
Processing the information
Storing the return


  • The processing of an Individual’s return, both Main Tax Return (SA100) and Short Tax Return (SA200) which cannot be captured using Rapid Data Capture (RDC), can be broken into four distinct areas
  • Action to take on receipt of the return
  • Preparing for capture of the return
  • Capture of the return information and post capture checks
  • Note: Further information regarding the SA200 and the RDC process is available at subject ‘Short Tax Returns’ (SAM121100), and also in section ‘Returns Processed at EDM scanning unit in Wolverhampton’ (SAM127000 onwards).

The return must be

  • Electronically filed
  • A computer generated version which is identical to the official HMRC form for the correct year
  • The official HMRC paper form for the correct tax year
  • Be signed by the correct person, including a person acting in any capacity. Note: The return may be completed in ink or pencil, either is acceptable although completion in ink is preferable. Do not refuse a return because it has been completed in pencil
  • Include all supplementary pages indicated on the SA100 as being necessary. The exceptions Employment pages where a page, or pages, are indicated but have not been enclosed. This is because, from 6 April 2016, corrections can be made to certain boxes using information we already hold on our systems under S9ZB TMA1970. For example, pay and tax and benefits (such as Car and Fuel benefits and Medical Insurance notified on form P11D). You can also accept a return from a director with no income from office, who has entered a note to this effect in the white space). Note: A spreadsheet, table or list providing details which should be on separate supplementary pages (self-employments, partnerships) is not acceptable
  • Not include, on the SA200, turnover of £85,000 or more from Self Employment or £85,000 or more from Land and Property

The return that you receive in the majority of cases will be the paper return that was issued. The customer may however submit a paper copy of a computer generated identical version of the tax return or a manually altered earlier year’s return as a substitute for another year. Further details are available in subject ‘Computer Generated Versions of Tax Returns’ (SAM121020) and ‘Manually Altered Earlier Years Returns’ (SAM121021).

All paper returns received are treated exactly the same.

On receipt of return

On receipt of the return the date of receipt must be checked to make sure it is satisfactory. If not, it should be sent back without having been logged.

Further information is available under the subjects below

Unsatisfactory individual returns (SAM121260)
Unsatisfactory partnership returns (SAM123210)
Unsatisfactory partnership returns (SAM123210)

Where the return is satisfactory, it should be stamped on the return and recorded (logged) on the customer record using function LOG RETURN. Where bar code reading equipment is available this should be used to log returns as it is quick and accurate. There is an exception to when function LOG RETURN should be used and this is detailed in subject ‘Part Year Individual Returns for the Current Year’ (SAM121040). Note: There are exceptions to this process - see ‘Redirecting returns where the responsible office is elsewhere’ below.

Redirecting returns where the responsible office is elsewhere

Where a return has been received at an office other than a Regional Post Room, the return should be stamped with the date of receipt and redirected according to its type as follows. The return will be logged upon receipt at its destination.

Specialist PT - Trusts and Estates returns

HM Revenue & Customs
United Kingdom

Short Tax Returns (SA200)

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

All other SA Returns

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

All other returns should be logged in the office in which it is received, provided that office has the LOG RETURN function available on Local Data Capture (LDC). The return must then be processed as soon as possible.

Other clerical reviews are required on receipt of the return in the responsible office as follows

  • To identify where a computer generated version of the form has been received, but is not identical to the official HMRC form. The return should be sent back immediately with accompanying letter SA602 where appropriate, available through SEES
  • To check whether the return is for the correct year and identify where a return for an earlier year has been altered manually so that it is being submitted as a substitute. Such returns should not be logged but should be sent back immediately with accompanying letter SA602 available through SEES
  • To consider whether any action is required immediately, for example, to deal with correspondence or attachments received with the return. Any payments received with the return should also be extracted, payslips prepared and forwarded, and the return noted


  • To identify any changes to the customer’s personal details to enable the customer’s record to be updated prior to capture

Prepare for capture

Following the initial review of the return further action is required to prepare the return for capture. It is necessary for this action to take place to identify

  • Returns that include a PAYE source of income
  • Returns that include more than one sole trading source
  • Unsatisfactory returns


  • Revenue Calculation cases where it is necessary to calculate the amount of certain entries

In most cases unsatisfactory returns should be identified before being logged but if a return has been logged and then found to be unsatisfactory, it should be unlogged before the return is

  • Sent back to the customer or agent who submitted it regarding the omissions


  • For completion of a further return in certain SA200 cases

Where an agent is acting, a letter should also be issued to the other party notifying them of the action taken. If, in a case where an agent is acting, it is not possible to tell who submitted the return, it should be sent back to the customer as it is their ultimate responsibility to ensure that a satisfactory return is submitted.


1. Unsatisfactory returns received on 1 November should not be treated in the same way as those received in the period 10 to 31 October. This is to correspond with the fact that a return received on that date is considered to be late and will attract a penalty
2. Where the return has been received prior to the filing date but is being returned as unsatisfactory within 21 days before the filing date, a period of 21 days is given to allow a satisfactory return to be submitted. A period longer than 21 days should be allowed in certain exceptional circumstances, for example overseas addresses or UK geographical areas where there are known longer postal times

If the information is not supplied within 21 days, or longer where allowed, automatic penalties will apply.

Capture return

A satisfactory return is then ready for capture. The earliest return that can be entered in LDC is for 2013-14, until 5 April 2018, then the earliest will be 2014-15. The majority of information is captured using information enclosed with the return or information already held on our systems and any enquiries dealt with under Check Later. For further information, see subject ‘Unsatisfactory Individual Returns’ SAM121260 or the relevant PT Ops Action Guides for information about the type of information you can use to make S9ZB corrections during return capture.

Information regarding action on receipt of SA returns for an out of date year, for which capture is no longer possible using Local Data Capture, is available at subject ‘Returns for out of date years: Individuals’ (SAM121080).


1. It is important that you capture all relevant entries on the return as fully as possible and do not omit figures from return boxes simply because the system will allow you to do so. This is because even where a box does not affect the calculation of the liability, the information is used for statistical, compliance and other purposes. Also, what you capture on the system needs to provide as complete a picture as possible for other staff to view.
2. Where a return has not already been identified as an ‘Away’ return at the pre-capture stage, the return should be fully captured and coded in the office of receipt. Any work list items arising from capture of the return will be the responsibility of the responsible office. The return should then be filed away in the receiving office.

If a cusomer submits more than one return on the same day it is important that the returns are captured in chronological order. This will ensure that any repayments claimed on the returns are issued to the correct person.

As details are entered the computer makes checks, identifies errors and gives warnings where unlikely situations arise. Some clerical reviews are necessary, for example, to deal with correspondence received with the return and to repair obvious errors or mistakes on the return.

The computer will carry out one calculation and can calculate the liability in the majority of cases.

There are rare occasions when the computer will calculate the liability but the calculation will be wrong (SAM121275). These cases should be identified before or during capture. The return details must not be captured in these cases, the liability must be calculated manually and the liability entered using function CREATE RETURN CHARGE.

It is possible to store a return if only partially captured in LDC where further information is required. It is important to clear these cases as quickly as possible as they are only held in LDC for a short period of time before they are deleted.

A paper report of returns held on LDC can be obtained for management purposes by using the LDC Administrator function LDC ADMIN 2000. Other paper reports are produced to help manage returns in LDC.

Processing the information

When the capture of the return has been completed, the return information is passed to the main computer and processing of the information (SAM121515) is carried out and the customer’s record is updated.

Storing the return

Where return related post is received in the office / area in which the return is held, the post should be linked and stored with the relevant return. Where the relevant return is not held in the office / area dealing with the return related post, the post should be stored in post batches. In all cases, details of the item filed and return / post batch number should be entered in SA Notes.

Information on the other types of return received is available in other sections of the ‘Returns’ business area of the SA Manual as follows

  • Partnership return - see section ‘Partnership Returns’ (SAM122000 onwards)
  • Tax Return for Trustees of approved self-administered Pension Schemes - see section ‘Trust Returns’ (SAM123000 onwards)
  • Trust return - see section ‘Trust Returns’ (SAM123000 onwards)