Beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what this means

HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Returns: trust returns: computer generated versions of tax returns

To encourage online filing, HMRC will not approve or accept computer generated ‘substitute’ returns where the return can be filed online. The vast majority of paper returns received will therefore be the official forms issued by HMRC.

Taxpayers unable to file online

There are a very small number of taxpayers who are unable to file online for technical or operational reasons because HMRC has not yet made facilities to do so available to them. These taxpayers will therefore be allowed to

  • File on paper up to 31 January, without incurring any penalty that would otherwise be due for filing a paper tax return after 31 October
  • Submit a computer generated version of a return, as long as it meets the criteria that it must be identical to the official HMRC tax return

Other cases

Where a customer chooses to file on paper instead of online, an HMRC issued return form should be used. However, if computer generated output is used by the taxpayers or their agents, for returns which could be filed online, it will be accepted provided it is ‘identical’ to the official HMRC return. The filing date remains 31 October. This is the case for all Trust and Estate tax returns, as they are capable of being filed electronically.

Note: Any computer generated version that does not meet the ‘identical’ criteria is not a tax return, and should be sent back to the taxpayer as unsatisfactory with stock letter SA602. 

If you receive a computer generated version which is identical to the official HMRC form, it should be processed in exactly the same way as an HMRC paper return.

‘Identical’ criteria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Identical’ means that

  • The layout, page numbers, and graphical elements (including logo, font and answer boxes), are exactly the same as the HMRC form
  • The form is printed either in colour as the HMRC version (allowing for slight variations in shade), or in grey-scale. Pure black and white printed versions are not acceptable
  • The pages are either bound, or are separate A4 sheets, in the correct page order and the answer boxes are the same size as the HMRC paper form
  • The form does not contain any guidance or other material designed within the software package to appear on-screen to assist data entry for the customer
  • The form does not contain any other elements such as graphics, wording or references (other than specific taxpayer data) that are not found on the official HMRC form

Notes: 

1. A computer generated version which includes a bar-code will be accepted as identical provided that the bar-code is in the top left hand corner (as it would be on an HMRC issued return)
   
2. The footer must include only data personal to the taxpayer (such as name or UTR), the IR Mark, or electronic page numbering
3. A computer generated version will be acceptable as long as the taxpayer data can be read by HMRC and it is completely clear to which box the data relates. For example, the majority of amount boxes within the return allow 8 digits but, if required, more than 8 digits would be acceptable, provided that they are legible
4. You must not accept copies of a computer generated version of a tax return on digital media, for example, on CD or disk. If a taxpayer submits a computer generated version on digital media, it should be returned explaining that tax returns cannot be accepted in this form
5. You must not accept a request to print computer generated versions of tax returns using office equipment