As we know, HMRC carry out much of their correspondence via post, which is not the most secure of methods.

If you submit a tax return resulting in a repayment, the real HMRC will undergo checks to ensure that the claim is genuine before paying out the money. This can sometimes include the requirement for the person to provide evidence of their identity and to answer basic questions about the repayment claim. This request will come in the form of a letter, and if no response is heard, HMRC will remove the claim from their system.

If you are sent a letter by HMRC for this reason and are in any doubt of its legitimacy ring HMRC directly on 0300 200 3310 (this number should also appear on the letter).

The real HMRC will carry out the following process:

  1. SURF Letter 1: Where a risk of fraud is identified, HMRC will send a letter advising that the persons unique taxpayer reference (UTR) may have been used to submit a fraudulent claim. They will ask the taxpayer to call them within 30 days, and if nothing is heard, they will cancel the repayment and close down the UTR to prevent it being used again.
  2. SURF Letter 2: If the person responds to SURF Letter 1, HMRC will then issue a second letter asking the taxpayer to provide evidence of their identity.

As we know, sending important documents in the post isn’t the most secure of methods of confirming your identity. HMRC are currently exploring ways to protect taxpayer more using alternative methods of document sharing, however until this is the case, the most secure thing to do is to send good quality copies of any documents, meaning HMRC will not need to return anything to you via post. Anything sent to HMRC will be safely destroyed after 50 days.

Published by
Stephanie Jenner
Senior Client Manager at AF Tax Solutions Ltd