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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Claims: capture (D-K): intermediaries and representatives (TCO only)

Checklist

Before you follow this guidance make sure

  • you follow the guidance in TCM0138020
  • you have the correct user roles to follow this guidance.
  • you are in the correct MU. Use TCM0322460 for the correct MU number.

Background

An increasing number of customers are using the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) (such as a Citizens Advice Bureau) as intermediaries to help them with their claims.

The authority for an intermediary to act is usually for 12 months and it is possible that a customer may turn to a different source for similar help on future occasions.

A customer may have more than one intermediary acting on their behalf at any one time.

Customers can also request an individual such as a friend, neighbour or solicitor to help them with their tax credits claim. Requests to deal with a third party representative will be dealt with in the same way as requests for VCS intermediaries.

This process is designed to make it easier for a short-term intermediary to assist a customer with their tax credits claim and recognises that this authorisation will apply for a short-term period.

You can accept a customer’s authorisation for an intermediary to act on their behalf

  • by form TC689

or

  • by letter giving all the information asked for on form TC689.

Note: In a joint claim you must not disclose any information concerning either customer to an intermediary who has not been recorded as an authority to act on each individual customer’s behalf. This authorisation must be signed by both customers to enable the intermediary to act on behalf of both of them. If the intermediary has authority to act on only the first customer’s behalf, you cannot give customer-specific details such as income or other personal details relating to the second customer who has not provided their consent. In this situation only provide general non customer-specific information such as when payments of tax credits are due. In a joint claim, if an intermediary is authorised for one customer only we can still accept information relating to both customers from the intermediary for the purpose of a change in circumstances only, otherwise authority for both parties is required. We require both authorities unless there has been a household breakdown.

Note: You can take information from a customer’s authorised intermediary and discuss the customer’s claim with them. However, you should not disclose information to an intermediary that is not relevant to the issue concerned. You must only provide them with minimal personal information which is specifically about them and that is necessary for them to deal with the query or task. In the case of joint claims, if the third party is requesting information about the customer who has not given their authority, you must not disclose personal information specific to that non-consenting customer.

The form TC689 authorises an intermediary to act for a period of 12 months unless the customer specifies a different period. The customer may want the intermediary to act just for a specific tax credits matter.

Note: As a general rule, when responding to a third party by letter it is not necessary to include the customer’s address unless specifically required to do so to answer a query. Providing the full NINO or other reference together with customers name should be sufficient to enable the third party to identify their client.

If you do not need to send an award notice or other HMRC produced form that gives details about the customer (such as a copy of form TC603R) with your reply, write to the intermediary only. You do not need to write to the customer or send them a copy of what has been sent to the intermediary or representative unless they specifically ask us to do so

If the intermediary has requested an award notice or other HMRC produced form that gives details about the customer do not send the form directly to the intermediary. Instead write to the customer enclosing the notice or form with your letter and tell the customer you have sent a copy of the letter, but not the notice or form, to the intermediary or representative. Advise the customer that if they want the intermediary to have this information they must forward it on to them

Note: Include any intermediary’s own reference number details on the covering letters to the intermediary or voluntary organisation.

These actions mean that the correspondence can be matched up with the paperwork held by the intermediary or voluntary organisation but does not provide enough information for potential identity theft.

You can take information from a customer’s authorised intermediary and can discuss the customer’s claim with them. However, you should not disclose information to an intermediary that is not relevant to the issue concerned and you should not give out bank or address information, dates of birth or the partner’s NINO. This list is not exhaustive.

Intermediaries

  • cannot receive tax credits entitlement decisions and award notices
  • cannot receive payment of an award on behalf of a customer, unless the customer has specifically asked us to make payments to the intermediary’s account
  • cannot receive electronically-generated forms
  • can, and should, receive clerically-produced notices, such as disputed overpayment letters

Note: In household breakdown cases, any original intermediary details held on the joint claim become invalid. The customer with the intermediary will have to complete a new form TC689. Do not disclose any information concerning either customer to an intermediary who does not have a new authority to act on the individual customer’s behalf. For example, if the intermediary has a new authority to act on customer one’s behalf, you cannot give details to the intermediary about customer two. Do not give out specific details relating to customer two such as income or other personal details. Only give out general information as to how the situation arose, such as the overpayment occurred because we were not made aware of the change of circumstances until a later date.

  • must provide notification of the period the authority is required for. This will be for a 12 month period unless otherwise stated.

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Appeals

An authorised intermediary can attend an appeal tribunal on the customer’s behalf. If they want to attend they should be provided with a copy of the submission to the tribunal.

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Voluntary and Community Sector

There are specific arrangements for the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) when, in exceptional circumstances, they need to contact us urgently about a customer’s tax credits claim.

They must provide

  • an electronic Kana TC689 (for urgent cases) - Authority for an Intermediary to act. If there is a joint claim the Kana TC689 should be completed showing the details for both parties.

Note: In household breakdown cases, any original intermediary details held on the joint claim become invalid. The customer with the intermediary will have to complete a new form TC689. Do not disclose any information concerning either customer to an intermediary who does not have a new authority to act on the individual customer’s behalf. For example, if the intermediary has a new authority to act on customer one’s behalf, you cannot give details to the intermediary about customer two. Do not give out details, including specific income or personal details relating to customer two. Only give out general information as to how the situation arose, such as the overpayment occurred because we were not made aware of the change of circumstances until a later date.

  • notification of the period the authority is required for. This will be for a 12 month period unless otherwise specified.

Note: The old version of form TC689 gave authority for four months, with the option to ask for a shorter or longer period. If you receive an old form TC689, and the customer has not given an alternative period, the authorisation is only for four months.

Arrangements have been made with the VCS to provide an Office Identification Number (OIN) for each office. The VCS will provide a central contact point from their office in the event of a query and will update this information as and when it changes.

The TCO Intermediaries, Appointees and Agents (IAA) Team will carry out verification checks on the VCS and the customers before noting the request for an intermediary in Function MAINTAIN HOUSEHOLD NOTES.

Note: Only the Intermediary, Agents & Appointees (IAA) Team are authorised to carry out these checks.

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Guidance

When sending customer, staff or process data to another individual or team, make sure you follow the latest data security guidelines or contact the Data Guardian or Data Security Team for advice.

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Step 1

Check the type of request you have received from an intermediary, representative or Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).

If you have received a written request for proof of or confirmation of benefits, follow the guidance in TCM0288610.

If you have received a written request for other information, go to Step 2.

If you have received a written request to become an intermediary, go to Step 6.

If you have received a form TC689, go to Step 6.

If you have received a Kana TC689, go to Step 17.

If you received a letter confirming new address details for the VCS, go to Step 18.

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Step 2

Check whether a claim has been received. For how to do this, use TCM1000246.

If a claim has been received, go to Step 3.

If a claim has not been received, keep the letter in a clerical BF for two months, checking each day to check whether a claim has been received.

If a claim is received within the two month BF date, go to Step 3.

If no claim is received after the two month BF date

  • send the request for information to storage. Follow the guidance in TCM0074140
  • take no further action.

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Step 3

Check if authority has already been recorded on the computer. For how to do this, use TCM1000021 for pre award claims or TCM1000067 for post award claims.

If authority has been recorded, go to Step 4.

If no authority has been recorded, go to Step 5.

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Step 4

  • stamp the letter ‘Authority to act’
  • file the form TC689, if received

then

  • send the written correspondence to the relevant area, such as Change of Circs or Disputed Overpayments
  • take no further action.

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Step 5

  • send form TC689 and form TC1093 to the customer
  • stamp ‘No authority to act’ on the letter and redirect it to the relevant area who will check for any updated authority
  • take no further action.

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Step 6

If a form TC689 has been received and is complete, that is all the boxes are completed, go to Step 7.

If a form TC689 has been received and is incomplete, go to Step 11.

If a written letter of consent has been received and is complete, that is the letter has all the information that is required on form TC689

  • accept it as authority

then

If a written letter of consent has been received and is incomplete, go to Step 11.

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Step 7

Note: Do not enter a note on a rejected claim, we cannot action these. We can only enter an authority note for a pre-award claim or an awarded claim. Tell the intermediary or customer of this.

Note: If the intermediary name is someone from an organisation, enter the name of the organisation only as the intermediary.

If the claim is pre award, go to Step 8.

If the claim is post award, go to Step 9.

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Step 8

  • update Application Notes with the appropriate message JI01, JI02, JI06, JI07, JI08, JI09, JI11, JI12, JI14 or JI15 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000028
  • retain TC689 with original papers
  • return to the previous guidance you are following.

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Step 9

  • update Household Notes with the appropriate message JI01, JI02, JI06, JI07, JI08, JI09, JI11, JI12, JI14 or JI15 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • retain TC689 with original papers
  • return to the previous guidance you are following.

If the Child Benefit Authority box is completed on form TC689, go to Step 10.

If the Child Benefit Authority box is not completed, take no further action.

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Step 10

  • send a copy of this form to the Child Benefit Office (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

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  • take no further action.

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Step 11

Note: Under no circumstances must any correspondence be sent to the intermediary.

If form TC689 is incomplete, go to Step 12.

If the letter is incomplete, go to Step 13.

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Step 12

  • put an ‘X’ next to the relevant boxes on the form
  • send this together with form TC1090 to the customer
  • go to Step 14.

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Step 13

  • send a form TC689 together with form TC1090 to the customer
  • go to Step 14. {#}

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Step 14

If the claim is pre-award, go to Step 15.

If the claim is post award, go to Step 16.

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Step 15

  • update Application Notes with the message JI15 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000028
  • take no further action.

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Step 16

  • update Household Notes with the message JI15 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • take no further action.

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Step 17

Note: Kana TC689 requests can only be accepted from the VCS organisations. Only the Intermediaries, Appointees and Agents (IAA) Team are authorised to deal with Kana requests and carry out the verification checks.

If a Kana TC689 has been received by the Kana system and the Office Identification Number (OIN) has been included, go to Step 18.

If a Kana TC689 has been received by the Kana system and the Office Identification Number (OIN) has not been included, go to Step 26.

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Step 18

Check that the OIN corresponds with a valid number on the Voluntary Sector Database (VSD).

If the OIN matches, go to Step 19.

If the OIN does not match, go to Step 26.

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Step 19

If you have received information advising of a new VCS address

  • update the database with the new details
  • take no further action.

If you have not received information advising of a new VCS address, go to Step 20.

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Step 20

Note: If a joint claim is subject to a disputed overpayment and has been ended due to a household breakdown, an intermediary can act for a single customer in respect of the joint overpayment, as long as there is a signature.

Note: A Kana TC689 will not be signed as this is an electronic form.

Check the computer to establish that the Kana TC689 contains the correct customer details and includes both customers where a joint claim is held. For how to do this, use TCM1000189.

If the Kana TC689 includes all the applicable details for one claimant in a single claim or joint details for a joint claim, go to Step 21.

If the Kana TC689 does not include all the applicable details for one claimant in a single claim or both claimants when it is a joint claim, go to Step 23.

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Step 21

Note: Do not enter a note on a rejected claim, we cannot action these. We can only enter an authority note for a pre-award claim or an awarded claim. File the documents locally for 13 months before sending to storage.

Note: If the intermediary name is someone from an organisation, enter the name of the organisation only as the intermediary.

If the claim is pre-award

  • update Application Notes with the appropriate message JI01, JI02, JI06, JI07, JI08, JI09, JI11, JI12, JI15 or JI16 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000028
  • go to Step 22.

If the claim is post award

  • update Household Notes with the appropriate message JI01, JI02, JI06, JI07, JI08, JI09, JI11, JI12, JI15 or JI16 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to Step 22.

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Step 22

If the Child Benefit Authority box is completed on form TC689

  • send a copy of this form to the Child Benefit Office (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

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  • take no further action.

Note: If the form has been received via the Kana system and needs to be worked by CBO also, reroute the item through Kana.

If the Child Benefit Authority box is not completed on form TC689, take no further action.

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Step 23

Phone the VSO and ask them to send the Kana TC689 again with the correct information on.

If the claim is pre-award

  • update the Kana notes if appropriate to say ‘details incorrect/incomplete and new form will need to be submitted’
  • mark as dealt with and ‘cleared for tax credit purposes’ on the Kana system
  • go to Step 24.

If the claim is post award

  • update the Kana notes if appropriate to say ‘details incorrect/incomplete and new form will need to be submitted’
  • mark as dealt with and ‘cleared for tax credit purposes’ on the Kana system
  • go to Step 25.

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Step 24

  • update Application Notes with the appropriate message JI06 or JI17 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000028
  • take no further action.

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Step 25

  • update Household Notes with the appropriate message JI06 or JI17 from TCM0162020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • take no further action.

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Step 26

  • pass the Kana TC689 to the person on the IAA Team who is dealing with the OIN database.

Note: The IAA Team will phone the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) if the OIN has not been supplied or is incorrect and ask them to re submit the Kana TC689 again with the correct OIN included.

If the OIN supplied differs to that of the address of the VCS, go to Step 27.

If there is no record on the database, go to Step 28.

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Step 27

  • contact the organisation by phone to confirm if they have moved address and ask for written confirmation
  • update the database with the new details
  • send the TC689 to storage. For how to do this, use TCM0074140
  • take no further action.

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Step 28

  • contact the organisation by phone and explain the OIN process and request that they apply for an OIN in writing on letter headed paper should they wish to use the Kana facility
  • send the TC689 to storage. For how to do this, use TCM0074140
  • take no further action.