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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

Returns: returns processed at HMRC Netherton: HMRC Netherton: return is not signed

The SA return requires a declaration to be signed by either

  • The taxpayer


  • A person acting in a capacity for the taxpayer (for example, a personal representative 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

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, it should be reviewed as to whether the return is unsatisfactory in any way and if previously logged, it should be unlogged before being sent back to the taxpayer or agent who submitted it (only to an agent where 64-8 held). 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 before the paper filing date and is being sent back within the 21 day period before the filing date, the return should be unlogged before being returned to the taxpayer or agent who submitted it for signature, enclosing letter SA604 (only to an agent where 64-8 held).


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. 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

Keeping records of returns sent back

As returns which are unsatisfactory will be unlogged before they are returned to the customer, there is no need to keep a record of these cases for later review.