Introduction to this document

Enquiry - notice out of time letter

To start an enquiry into your personal tax HMRC must notify you of its intention within a deadline. Before you reply to any questions HMRC raises, check that the enquiry notice has been issued in time. If not you should respond immediately advising HMRC that it is out of time.

Delivered too late

The statutory requirement is that a notice of enquiry must be given, i.e. received by the taxpayer within the time allowed. For example, with income tax HMRC has to issue a notice by the anniversary of the date the tax return was received, if it was received on or before the filing date of 31 January (see below if the return was received by HMRC after 31 January). There is a presumption that a notice will be delivered in the ordinary course of post; but this is a rebuttable presumption. What matters is when the notice is actually delivered. If you can show that the notice was delivered after the deadline, it doesn’t matter one jot when it was posted; use our Enquiry - Notice Out of Time Letter to politely have the enquiry set aside.

Note. If HMRC received the return after 31 January, it has “up to and including the quarter day next following the first anniversary of the day on which the return was delivered…” (s.9A(s)(b) of the Taxes Management Act 1970) within which to issue the notice of enquiry. The quarter days are 31 January, 30 April, 31 July and 31 October.