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HMRC internal manual

Senior Accounting Officer Guidance

Tax compliance risk management process for customers managed by Mid-sized Business: considering a certificate

Beyond checking that the certificate a Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) provides contains the necessary information, the Mid-sized Business Customer Engagement Team (CET) will not check a certificate for accuracy on receipt but may use it later as part of the risk assessment process.

If it appears that a penalty may be due it is important that the CET or Caseworker follows the penalty procedure as soon as the failure or inaccuracy has come to the attention of an officer of HMRC. This is because there is a restrictive time limit, see SAOG21200, for taking penalty action. Following the ordered steps set out at SAOG19000 the CET or Caseworker must discuss the potential penalty situation with their Assistant Director and Penalties Consistency Panel, before then explaining to the SAO (separately from other risks being addressed to the company/group) that

  • there has been a failure or inaccuracy and
  • they intend to charge a penalty.

A failure or inaccuracy ‘comes to the attention’ of a HMRC officer when that officer knows that there has been a failure or inaccuracy. So, for example, if the CET or Caseworker finds as a result of a meeting that a certificate is inaccurate, or the main duty was not met, the date of that meeting is the date when the inaccuracy, or failure, comes to their attention.

See also the guidance at SAOG17710 for considering the certificate in specific situations.