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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Technical Manual

TCTM09435 - Decision Making: Revised decisions, considering evidence and recording of decisions

Section 21A - Review of decisions (Mandatory Reconsideration)

The review is commonly referred to as a Mandatory Reconsideration.

From 06 April 2014 a Mandatory Reconsideration must be completed before a claimant can submit an appeal to Tribunal. A Mandatory Reconsideration is a review of a claimant’s Tax Credit decision on the rate of the award or entitlement.

S21A provides the power to review an appealable decision and carry out a Mandatory Reconsideration. The decisions which carry the right of appeal are outlined in s38 of the Tax Credits Act.

If a claimant does not agree with a decision about their tax credits award/entitlement, they must ask us to review our decision before they can appeal.  HMRC must review any decision within s38 if a written application which identifies the applicant and the decision in question is received, and:

  • The application is received within 30 days of the date of decision, or
  • The application is received within a longer period as allowed under s21B (late application for a Mandatory Reconsideration).

When a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration is accepted, the evidence and information is used to determine if our original decision was correct. The review of the decision is undertaken using the relevant decision making powers used to take the original decision.

There is no specific time limit in conducting the Mandatory Reconsideration. HMRC have the power to seek further information while undertaking the Mandatory Reconsideration but are not required to await a reply when the information is requested.

When the Mandatory Reconsideration has been carried out, we must provide the claimant with notice of the conclusion of the Mandatory Reconsideration. The notice must detail our conclusion and the reasons for the conclusion reached.

The conclusion must be one of the following-

  • that the decision is upheld;
  • that the decision is varied;
  • that the decision is cancelled

Only when the Mandatory Reconsideration has been completed can the claimant take the matter forward to a Tribunal.


Section 21B – Late application for review (Late Mandatory Reconsiderations)

If a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration has not been made within the 30 day time limit as per s21A, s21B provides that HMRC may extend the time limit if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The person seeking the review has applied for an extension; and
  • The application explains why the extension is sought; and
  • The application is made within 13 months of the date of the decision; and
  • HMRC are satisfied that due to special circumstances it was not possible for the Mandatory Reconsideration request to have been made within 30 days; and
  • HMRC are satisfied that it is reasonable in all the circumstances to grant the extension.


When a claimant requests an extension to the time limit on s21A they must provide details of the special circumstances for our consideration.

In the consideration of special circumstances and whether it is reasonable to grant an extension, HMRC must bear in mind the time which has lapsed between the end of the time limit specified in s21A and the date HMRC received the late Mandatory Reconsideration request.

The greater the amount of time that has lapsed, the more compelling the special circumstances on which the application for an extension of time is based.

Note: s21B provides an absolute time limit of 13 months for the request of a Mandatory Reconsideration to be made.