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HMRC internal manual

VAT Assessments and Error Correction

Error correction for VAT returns: Interest and penalties: Return periods with a due date on or after 1 April 2009 careless errors disclosures

The majority of error corrections will not be careless, that is, due to a failure to take reasonable care. Indeed, the existence of a process to identify and correct errors, provided it is maintained and operated consistently, is an indicator that a person is taking reasonable care.

However, if in doubt a person may submit a disclosure to safeguard the penalty reduction position.

You will therefore need to take an objective view of the facts presented to determine whether the error was made despite taking reasonable care, careless or deliberate, and if necessary, obtain further information to determine the behaviour. See, CH82420 for guidance on prompted and unprompted behaviour.

When considering whether an error was careless, you should be seeking to establish whether the person has taken the care and attention that could be expected from a reasonable person taking reasonable care in similar circumstances.

See CH81120 for further guidance on reasonable care.

For practical examples of inaccuracies made despite taking reasonable care and failure to take reasonable care, see CH81131 and CH81142.

If the error was made carelessly or deliberately and a penalty is appropriate, you should consider whether the disclosure was unprompted or prompted. See CH82420 for guidance on unprompted and prompted disclosure


  • there has been a unprompted disclosure of a careless inaccuracy, and
  • the disclosure reveals all relevant facts about the error, and
  • the person actively participates in providing HMRC information and access to their records for verification purpose, and
  • the amount of the disclosure is accepted,

then any penalty maybe reduced to nil, see CH82400, onwards.

The legislation that covers this is at

FA2007/Sch 24/Para 10(1)