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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

Returns: individuals returns: storing individual returns

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.

After logging and automatic recording of batch numbers has been completed, all returns should be stored in the batches of 50. A sequential number, the Return Batch Identifier (SAM121065), will have been allocated to that batch of returns during logging and should be used as the reference for storage. This is to ensure a uniform and standard approach towards storing and retrieving SA returns throughout HMRC.

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.

A return taken from the batch, for instance an ‘away’ return or taken for compliance purposes, should always be replaced by a stencil showing relevant details (see below).

‘Away’ returns should be logged normally and forwarded on to the appropriate office with processing responsibility as soon as possible. Where ‘away’ returns have not been captured three weeks before the 31 December deadline they should be captured, but not stored in a batch, in the office of receipt. They should then be sent to the responsible ‘home’ office as soon as possible.

Where returns are transferred to another office for processing only, but will return to the original office for storage (for example to Remote Capture Units), offices should log and batch before the transfer. The Return Batch Identifier can then be used as the reference point to control movement.

The Return Batch Identifier should appear in the format Office identifier / latest possible year of return in batch / sequential number; for example 968 / 2003 / 0345. Where several locations share the same office numeral the office should be distinguished; for example 968Margate / 2003 / 0345.

Return Batch Identifiers should be controlled carefully by a nominated officer. They should ensure that numbers are sequential and are not duplicated. A control sheet should be maintained as part of the audit trail.

Batches of returns, in the order in which they are logged, should be stored together in a box or folder and the Return Batch Identifier should be clearly marked. Batches should be stored in number order to assist with tracing.

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.

Access to batches of returns should be controlled for security reasons. Where returns are extracted from the batch for any purpose they should be replaced by a stencil showing

  • Name of taxpayer
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference
  • Return year
  • Name of borrower
  • Contact telephone number
  • Date
  • Purpose

Note: Paper copies of the Short Tax Return (SA200) processed by Rapid Data Capture (RDC) are shredded after capture. A copy of the scanned image should meet most circumstances where there is a need to see the original return.