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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Returns: individuals returns: logging individuals’ returns

The information below details the process used before the return scanning and auto-logging process (SAM20515) was introduced in July 2015. However, there are exceptions to the auto-logging process such as SA200/SA700/SA900 and SA970 returns where this guidance will still apply.

On the day a return is received the date of receipt must be stamped on the return. Note: Ensure that the stamp is well clear of the barcode to prevent problems with barcode reading.

The return must

  • Be electronically filed, or be on the official HMRC paper form for the correct year, or be a computer generated version which is identical to the official HMRC form for the correct 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 Main Tax Return (SA100) as being necessary. The exceptions being 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 a Short Tax Return, turnover of £82,000 or more from Self Employment, or £82,000 or more from Land and Property

The remainder of this subject is presented as follows

Date of receipt

Any return delivered after 31 October is late. The legislation applying to returns for 2010-2011 onwards means that returns received on 1 November will attract a late filing penalty.

The previous practice based on the Special Commissioners’ decision in the case of Steeden v Carver (Sp C 212) no longer applies. However, we do not know if a return was delivered on time if delivered by hand and found in an HMRC post box on 1 November, so, as the date of delivery is uncertain, a return found in a tax office post box before 7:30am on 1 November should be treated as put in the post box before midnight on 31 October.


1. Any returns received on 31 October, and any returns placed in the office post box before 7:30am on 1 November, should be date stamped and logged as received on 31 October
2. Any returns received on 1 November, and any returns placed in the office post box before 7:30am on 2 November, should be date stamped and logged as received on 1 November
3. Any returns received on 2 November, including those placed in the office post box after 7:30am, should be date stamped and logged as received on 2 November

Logging and automatic recording of batch numbers

Note: References to SA returns include any accounts, statements or documents accompanying the return. That is any material that is sent in support of a return (see Section 29 TMA 1970 and EM3261). Such material may be submitted up to a month after the original return is submitted and should be linked with the return as soon as possible.

You should record (log) the date of receipt of the majority of signed SA returns using function LOG RETURN.

There are three exceptions to logging returns on receipt. These are

  • Returns issued for the current year in permanent cessation cases, which are for part of the year only


  • Returns that show the tax year has been altered and it has been sent as a substitute for another years return.

These returns should not be logged and batched in the normal way. For permanent cessation cases, you should record in SA Notes the details of date of receipt, location in post sub-folder, and so on. For more information, see section ‘Permanent Cessation’ (SAM90000 onwards).

  • Unsatisfactory returns where a review upon receipt has found that the return cannot be processed

These returns should not be logged and the guidance at subject ‘Unsatisfactory returns’ followed, see SAM121260.

For manually amended returns, see subject ‘Manually Altered Earlier Years Returns’ (SAM121021). Note: For returns which are received at an office other than a Regional Post Room, see the Introduction to this section of the Manual at SAM121001, specifically the information under sub-heading ‘Redirecting returns where the responsible office is elsewhere’.

Where bar code reading equipment is available, this should be used to log returns because it is quick and accurate. When using bar code reading equipment, take care if the name on the front of the return has been changed; check the pre-printed reference correctly applies to the taxpayer.

When entering the date of receipt in function LOG RETURN, each return within the batch being logged will be given a Return Batch Identifier (SAM121065). Batching is the process of collecting and logging together a number of SA returns (normally 50), allocating a sequential number to that group of returns, and using this number (Return Batch Identifier) as the reference for storage. This is to ensure a uniform and standard approach towards storing and retrieving SA returns throughout HMRC.

Further information on batching and storing of returns is available in subject ‘Storing Individual Returns’ (SAM121110).

Each return should be noted prominently on the front with the Return Batch Identifier. This will be automatically recorded on function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY for each return after logging of the batch has been completed.

Where several years’ returns are submitted together, they should be worked at the same time and they should be placed in the same batch. The same Return Batch Identifier will be shown on MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY for each return year.

Batches containing any repayment cases or several years’ returns submitted at the same time, should be given priority when processing. Note that earlier year returns are still subject to post monitoring deadlines and so all returns, including the current year return, should be worked within that deadline.

The term ‘Home return’ relates to any return for which processing responsibility sits with any location in the Area in which the return is first received.

The term ‘Away return’ relates to any return which is a PD1 case, High Net Worth Individual (Ex-CPT), Expat or CAR case and Short Tax Returns. All other returns can be processed where they are received.

‘Away’ returns, particularly those relating to CPR or EXPAT Teams, should be logged and the batch number recorded automatically, then forwarded on to the appropriate office with processing responsibility as soon as possible. The return should be replaced within the batch with a stencil showing relevant details.

Notes: Short Tax Returns

1. Forms SA200 (due to be processed using Automated Data Capture) received locally should normally, after logging as an ‘Away’ return, be forwarded to SA Post Room Netherton on the same day, by Tax Post Direct. In exceptional circumstances the return can be captured locally through LDC; for example, where a complaint case requires immediate capture, or where the nature of enclosures is such that they would best be dealt with at the time of capture. Where the return is received in an office other than a Regional Post Room, the date of receipt should be stamped on the return and the return redirected for logging at Netherton.
2. Any form SA200 where box 7.4 is ticked, and a form SA108 and capital gains computation are included, should after logging, be sent to Netherton for automatic processing on the same day by Tax Post Direct. Any form SA200 where box 1.5 is ticked, but neither SA108 nor capital gains computation is attached, should after logging, be sent to Netherton for pursuit of outstanding items
3. Where function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY indicates that a form SA200 has been logged / not captured but the batch identifier field remains blank, then the return will be within the Automated Data Capture (ADC) process, even where the OUID of the HMRC Team at TCO Netherton (231697) is shown. Where function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY indicates that a form SA200 has been logged / not captured, the batch identifier field contains an entry and the OUID of the HMRC Team at TCO Netherton (231697) is shown, then the return will be with that team

Notes: Multiple Logging

1. When an office receives a return that has been logged by another office, they can re-log it using their own batch identifier and the new date of receipt (this will not result in a Work List entry unless an earlier date than the original log is used). The taxpayer record will be automatically updated with the new batch identifier but the original date of receipt will not be overwritten
2. A batch identifier history, available within function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY from April 2007, will display the previous logging / location details of a return. On each occasion that a return is logged, function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY will be automatically updated. A [Batch History] button will be available where a return for the selected year has been logged on more than one occasion. If this button is selected, a new screen will display any previous return batch identifier, and the associated date, for the return for the year selected. However, only the latest 10 return batch identifiers will be stored; where a return is logged on more than 10 occasions, the oldest identifier will be removed from the display
3. Where the case has already been captured, the batch identifier will not be automatically updated; the return should be included in a batch in the new office and the new batch identifier recorded by selecting the SA Note ((Year) return in batch (number)) from the SEES Notes Paster


Returns received other than through normal routes, for example attached to post and not initially identified, should be incorporated into the new process. Where significant numbers are likely to arise from a single point of entry, they should be accumulated and passed to the logging team manager on a daily basis. In all other cases, any return identified should be passed or sent directly to the logging team manager as soon as it is identified, with a note attached that clearly indicates it has not yet been logged.

This automatic recording system will only apply to returns logged manually. For Internet or ADC returns, the Return Batch Identifier field on function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY will remain blank. The Summary will already show the method of capture as an indicator.


The SA return requires a declaration to be signed by either

  • The taxpayer


  • A person acting in a capacity for the taxpayer (for example, an executor / administrator of a deceased taxpayer)

The signature of a Power of Attorney will only be acceptable if

  • The taxpayer is physically incapable of signing the return. In which case the signatory must be an attorney acting under a general or enduring power. Note: If the person is merely unavailable to sign the return, for example because of absence abroad, the signature of the attorney will not suffice


  • The taxpayer is mentally incapable of understanding the significance of the return. In which case the attorney must be appointed under an enduring power registered with the Court of Protection. In Scotland, an attorney appointed under a power granted on or after 1 November 1990 or a curator bonis may sign the return


1. Whether or not a person acting in a capacity has the authority to sign should be established before processing takes place. It should not be questioned during processing unless it is clear from information on or with the return that the signature is not acceptable
2. A photocopy or fax of a signature is not acceptable and a name that is printed is not an acceptable signature


Normally before an SA return is logged it should be checked to ensure that the declaration is completed and signed. If a return is unsigned, you should try to identify any other missing items before sending the return back to the taxpayer or agent who submitted it. 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 taxpayer as it is their ultimate responsibility to ensure that the declaration is completed and signed.

If an unsigned return is received, you should make sure the return is unlogged before returning it to the taxpayer for signature enclosing letter SA604 (SAM121031).


1. Unsigned 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, from October 2011, 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

Logging returns after penalty/penalties imposed

Exceptionally you may want to log a return as received on the filing date, or earlier, after the automatic process to impose a fixed penalty has taken place. You should bear in mind that a penalty will have been imposed inappropriately and action as follows

  • Before logging the return, you should cancel the fixed penalty. Use function AMEND FIXED PENALTIES for penalties for tax years 2009-2010 and earlier. Use function VIEW/CANCEL PENALTIES to cancel penalties for tax years 2010-2011 onwards


  • After logging the return, you should explain your action to the taxpayer

Inspector cases

Where you identify a case where an Inspector has authorised a request not to capture the return details, (the return should be marked ‘INSP’), pass the return to the Inspector immediately after logging.

Urgent capture cases

Where you identify any return which has been requested for urgent capture, or where the Enforcement Case signal is set on the record, arrange for immediate capture of the return as a priority.


Where the computer cannot find a taxpayer record for the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) entered it will reject the logging date and produce a paper report LDC RETURNS - LOGGING FAILURES - NO RECORD FOUND. The entry will be under the UTR used to log the return, therefore if you have miscopied the UTR you will not be able to trace which return has not been logged.

Unsolicited returns

Where exceptionally a return has been received but there is no SA record held, (an unsolicited return)

  • If it belongs to your office, see subject ‘Unsolicited Returns: Individuals’ (SAM121140). If the case is appropriate to SA and the return is in the proper form, go to step 14 of the Action Guide on this subject
  • If it belongs to an ‘away’ office, it should be clearly date stamped and forwarded immediately to that office using Tax Post Direct. This will be the only circumstance when a return is received and forwarded without being logged

Where an SA record is held for the UTR shown but function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY does not show ‘Issued’ for the return year (as indicated by function LOG RETURN)

  • If it belongs to your office, go to step 17 of the Action Guide on this subject
  • If it belongs to an ‘away’ office, it should be clearly date stamped and forwarded immediately to that office using Tax Post Direct

If you do not log a return

If you do not log a return it can still be captured, but

  • The taxpayer record will show the return as outstanding until return details have been entered (captured)
  • The date of receipt will be taken to be the date return capture was started
  • The time limit for repairing an error or mistake (nine months from the date of receipt) may be measured incorrectly
  • A penalty for failure to make a return on time may be charged incorrectly

Amending a date of receipt

You can amend the date of receipt if it should be earlier than the date used when logging, by using function MAINTAIN RETURN SUMMARY.

Blank returns

There will be occasions when returns are received blank and unsigned. Blank returns that are unsigned may be logged where they were issued in error, for example

  • Where information was held by the Department at the time the return was issued that the taxpayer did not meet the SA criteria
  • The taxpayer died before the beginning of the year


  • The taxpayer was issued with two returns from two separate SA records and is to complete the other one

Where the return was not issued in error the return should be sent back with a letter asking for signature.