Enquiries and enquiry windows: Enquiry time limits
There are time limits for opening the enquiry. An enquiry cannot be opened until there has been a final s18 decision. This could be when the claimant makes a response to the s17 declaration or if there has been no response to the s17 notice it cannot be opened until after the automated s18 decision has been made after the 1SD. If the claimant finalised with estimated income at 1SD the enquiry cannot be made until the final decision has been made on the actual income details or the automated s18 decision is made, either following the claimants response or after the 2SD. Once the enquiry has been started there is no statutory restriction on the length of time it can last.
Opening an enquiry:
S19 (4) The period allowed for the initiation of an enquiry is the period beginning immediately after the relevant section 18 decision and ending-
(a) if the person, or either of the persons, to whom the enquiry relates is required by section 8 of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (c. 9) to make a return, with the day on which the return becomes final (or, if both of the persons are so required and their returns become final on different days, with the later of those days), or (b) in any other case, one year after the beginning of the relevant section 17 date.
An enquiry must be opened before one of the following dates, known as the enquiry window:
- Where the claimant is not in SA and responded to the s17 notice with actual income - the enquiry must be opened by one year after the 1SD.
- 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.
Closing an enquiry:
The date the enquiry window closes depends on:
- Whether the claimant is an SA taxpayer or not
- When the claimant returns details of their actual income.
For claimants who are not SA taxpayers and who:
- return actual income by the first specified date - the enquiry window will close one year after the first specified date
- return an estimate of their income by the first specified date - the enquiry window will close one year after the second specified date, regardless of the date they return their actual income
- don’t reply and we finalise their claim - the enquiry window will close one year after the first specified date.
For claimants who are SA taxpayers the enquiry window will close on the same date as their SA return becomes final.
The first specified date and the second specified date are not always the 31 July and 31 January, they are 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 specified date is extended so that a minimum of 30 days is allowed for a response.