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HMRC internal manual

Senior Accounting Officer Guidance

What to do when there may have been a failure or inaccuracy: telling a person about a penalty when there may have been a main duty failure or an inaccurate certificate

When the Penalties Consistency Panel (the panel) has authorised the Customer Compliance Manager (CCM), Mid-sized Business Customer Engagement Team (CET) or Caseworker to investigate further, the CCM, CET or Caseworker must then discuss the failure and the potential penalties with the Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) as soon as possible.

The CCM, CET or Caseworker must remember to only discuss a penalty for failing in the main duty or for providing a certificate containing an inaccuracy which was careless or deliberate with the SAO.

It is not appropriate or necessary in either circumstance to issue the Human Rights factsheet CC/FS9. This is because the penalties are not tax geared, they are primarily administrative and they are not capable of mitigation.

The CCM, CET or Caseworker must write a letter to the customer

  • explaining that we are considering penalties,
  • seeking to discuss and resolve issues, and
  • drawing attention to the right to advance reasonable excuse. See SAOG19500

As this letter is just to advise the SAO that we may be able to make a penalty assessment, and not the penalty assessment itself, there is no need to outline the rights of appeal at this stage.

Once the CCM, CET or Caseworker has gathered all the relevant information, they must make a second referral to the panel, see SAOG19600.