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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Technical Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Decision Making: Revised decisions, considering evidence and recording of decisions: Section 19 enquiries

S19 enquiries are carried out after the end of the tax year (within certain time limits). See the enquiry window paragraph below.

An enquiry is a review of the entitlement. Information and evidence is often required from the claimant or others, before a decision can be made on whether the award is correct. Information can be requested formally under 19(2) but only once the s19 enquiry has been opened. The s19 enquiry must be opened by giving a notice in writing to the claimant(s) with a separate notice for each claimant in joint claims.

If an enquiry notice is issued outside the enquiry window it is not a valid enquiry.

Similarly if HMRC find out that the enquiry notice was not received by the claimant, (for example returned RLS) then the enquiry is not opened.

There can only be one enquiry for each tax year, or one enquiry for each period of entitlement if there is more than one award period during a tax year (s19(11) and there are time limits for opening the enquiry.

Time limits

An enquiry cannot be opened until an annual declaration has been made and a conclusive decision has been taken under s18(1) or s18(6).

If there has been no response to the s17 notice an enquiry cannot be opened until after the automated s18 decision has been made, and if the claimant finalised with estimated income it cannot be opened until the final decision has been made on the actual income details or the automated s18 decision is made after the second estimated date (2SD), for an explanation of 2SD see TCTM09530.

Enquiry window opens

An enquiry must be opened before one of the following dates, known as the enquiry window:

  • where the claimant is not in SA (required to return a self assessment tax return) and responded to the s17 notice with actual income - the enquiry must be opened by one year after the first estimated date (1SD), for an explanation of 1SD see TCTM09530 
  • where the claimant is not in SA and responded to the s17 notice with estimated income - the enquiry must be opened by one year after the 2SD regardless of the date the actual income was supplied.
  • where the claimant is in SA - the enquiry must be opened by one year after the date the SA return for that year was filed regardless of the date on which they responded to the s17 notice or provided actual income details.

Note  

The 1SD is not always the 31 July and the 2SD is not always the 31 January, as they are both linked to the issue date of the s17 notice. If the s17 notice is issued late and within 30 days of 31 July or 31 January then the relevant SD is extended so that a minimum of 30 days is allowed for a response.

An enquiry is completed when we have given notice of the revised decision under subsection s19(3) to the claimant(s). Enquiries should not be closed prematurely as the s19 enquiry and power to revise will have been lost.

Claimant(s) can also apply to an appeal tribunal to close down an enquiry.

Examples of enquiry windows

Some examples of enquiry windows can be found at TCTM10230