Records to keep
Keeping accurate records of enquiry time
Disputes over the calculation of enquiry time is the most common reason for trader appeals against our refusal to pay repayment supplement. We must be able to show that enquiry time has been calculated fairly and reasonably by keeping records of all action taken and by updating Electronic Folder (EF) at all stages. Any Departmental delay during the enquiry process cannot be counted as reasonable enquiry time.
Records of first contact
If first contact with the trader is by telephone, you should keep a record of the call.
Note: Do not consider a message left on a telephone answering machine as initial contact with the trader because the message might not reach the intended recipient.
You should record any unsuccessful attempts to contact the trader but this will not usually be counted as enquiry time, except where we can show that the trader has been deliberately uncooperative.
If contact by telephone is proving difficult you should send a letter explaining the nature of your enquiry and that the repayment will be withheld until you are satisfied you have a complete answer. Add your letter to EF. We can then reasonably say that contact was made 2 days after the letter was sent. If no reply is received within 14 days, reconsider the case and follow up your letter.
By email or letter
You should keep your email or letter securely.
Records of follow up action
If you do not receive the specified information by the date requested you must contact the trader again within 2 days of the previously given deadline. Failure to do so may count as HMRC delay. Any unjustified delay to your enquiries or requests for information may be excluded from reasonable enquiry time and could result in a liability to repayment supplement.
You should keep clear records of reconsideration and follow up actions as with first contact above.
Records of considering responses
Each day spent in active consideration of responses should be evidenced. The response must have been viewed and progress made each day, and so a clear audit trail is needed in EF to show what action was taken.
Records of end of enquiry
Enquiry time ends and the repayment supplement clock re-starts when the officer raising the query has received the answer, and is satisfied that no further enquiries are necessary.
Role of countersigning officer
When approving the pre-repayment credibility query on EF or TRUCE Workbench the countersigning officer must
- state whether or not there have been any Departmental delays, and
- where appropriate quantify the period of Departmental delay.
Information for the Repayment Supplement Team
All relevant documents should be captured to EF so that the Repayment Supplement Team can establish with clarity what happened and when.