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HMRC internal manual

Senior Accounting Officer Guidance

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Senior Accounting Officer must provide a certificate to HMRC: what if the SAO changes

A person may commence or cease to be the Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) because

  • they start or cease employment with the company or group, or
  • they change roles in the company or group, or
  • the company determines that the facts show that another employee better fits the definition of SAO.

Although the person holding the role of SAO may change, there is always an SAO who is responsible for providing a certificate to HMRC. Where the SAO changes during the financial year or within the period for filing the certificate, see SAOG15200 for their responsibilities in relation to the period covered by their predecessor.

The scenarios below show the different situations in which a person might start or cease to be the SAO and the position of the SAO in relation to the provision of a certificate in each of those scenarios.

Scenario 1 - A person is an SAO for the company at the start of the financial year but ceases to be the SAO during the financial year

In this situation, often the person who ceases to be the SAO will not be in a position to provide a certificate. This is because the certificate must contain a statement about the accounting arrangements throughout the financial year. However the legislation does not disbar them from doing so.

It is possible that although the person who was SAO ceases to hold that role, they do so within a few days of the financial year end or change to a role that means they still have a clear understanding about the accounting arrangements in the period when they were not SAO. In such a case, the former SAO may well be able to provide a certificate - indeed they may be the best placed of the available current and former SAOs to do so. If they provide a timely certificate there is no need for any successor to do so.

Scenario 2 - A person is an SAO for the company at the start of a financial year, continues in the role throughout the financial year but ceases to be the SAO before the time limit for providing a certificate

In this situation, the SAO who ceases could provide a certificate for the financial year. They are certainly in a position to make a statement about the accounting arrangements throughout the financial year in a certificate but they are under no obligation to do so.

If the person who ceases to be the SAO has not provided a certificate a successor must provide the certificate, see scenario 7 below.

Scenario 3 - A person is the SAO at the start of a financial year, continues in the role throughout the financial year and stays in the role until or beyond the time limit for providing a certificate.

This person must provide a certificate.

Scenario 4 - A person becomes the SAO during a financial year and then ceases to be the SAO before the end of the financial year

This person could provide the certificate if no other SAO has done so in accordance with any of scenarios 1, 4 (again), 5, 6 or 7 but they are under no obligation to do so.

Scenario 5 - A person becomes the SAO during a financial year, continues in the role throughout the rest of the financial year but ceases to be the SAO before the time limit for providing a certificate

This person could provide the certificate if no other SAO has already done so in any of scenarios 1, 4, 7 or 8 but they are under no obligation to do so.

Scenario 6 - A person becomes the SAO during a financial year, and continues in the role until or beyond the time limit for providing a certificate.

This person has to provide a certificate unless a predecessor has already done so in any of scenarios 1 or 4.

Scenario 7 - A person becomes the SAO after the end of a financial year but ceases to be the SAO before the filing date for that financial year.

This person could provide a certificate if no other SAO has already done so in any of the scenarios 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 (where there is more than one person in this scenario) or 8 but they are under no obligation to do so.

Scenario 8 - A person becomes the SAO after the end of a financial year and continues in the role until or beyond the time limit for providing the certificate for that financial year

This person has to provide a certificate unless a predecessor has already done so in any of scenarios 1, 2, 4, 5, or 7.

NOTE

There are no failure penalty sanctions against a person who

  • could provide the certificate but
  • is under no obligation to do so because they are not the SAO at the time limit for providing the certificate

if that person doesn’t provide a timely certificate. However if such a person does provide a certificate which is inaccurate they can be liable to a penalty in relation to that inaccuracy, see SAOG18600.

The person who is the company’s SAO on the last date for providing a certificate must supply that certificate if no predecessor who was qualified to do so has indeed done so.

If an SAO who was in place in the financial year has not complied with the main duty they can be liable to a penalty for this even though they have never provided a certificate, see SAOG18700. In such a situation, the final SAO for the financial year might provide the certificate and its content could lead the Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) or the Caseworker to establish that a predecessor SAO had failed in the main duty.

FA09/SCH46/PARA6 (4)