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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Property held jointly by married couples or civil partners: Form 17 rule - declarations delayed or lost in post

The couple is expected to allow sufficient time for the declaration to reach you by post. A notice of declaration may not reach you within the 60 day time limit but the couple claim that it was posted in time. The position is this: Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 provides that ‘service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post ‘.

The onus is therefore on HMRC to prove that the notice was not given in time if both spouses or civil partners say it was sent by ordinary post within a reasonable time before the end of the 60 day period.

Accordingly you should

  • accept that the notice was given in time unless there is very good reason for doubt, but
  • ask the couple to give you another copy of the declaration if the original does not arrive.

If you have evidence that casts serious doubt on the couple’s claim, or if the couple do not agree what happened, please submit all the papers to Central Policy (Tax Administration Advice Team), Stockport with a full report of the facts.