What is a determination?

By Tolley in partnership with Philip Rutherford

The following Personal Tax guidance note by Tolley in partnership with Philip Rutherford provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • What is a determination?
  • When is a determination used?
  • Quantum of the determination
  • Time limits for HMRC to make a determination
  • Effect of a determination
  • How can a determination be displaced?
  • Special relief
  • Displacement of determination
  • Discovery
  • Excessive repayments of tax

Determinations are issued by HMRC where a taxpayer fails to file a Tax Return. For example, a determination can be raised against an individual for failure to file a SA100 Self Assessment Return or against a company for failure to file a CT600 corporate Tax Return.

The determination is based on an HMRC estimate of the amount of tax due. In doing so HMRC will take into account the information that is available to it. For example, HMRC may consider comparable businesses or corporate information.

Once HMRC has raised a determination this is treated as though the taxpayer had filed a Tax Return, ie this is the amount the taxpayer is liable to pay HMRC. Issuing a determination also gives HMRC the opportunity to commence formal proceedings for the recovery of the late paid tax.

There is no appeal procedure relating to determinations. Once they are raised the taxpayer either needs to accept the determination, and pay the tax shown on the determination, or file a Tax Return. A determination can only be superseded by an actual Self Assessment Return within the required time limits which are discussed below.

It is obviously not good practice to fail to file a Tax Return but it should also be noted that in practice HMRC may often over-estimate the amount of tax owed. While the determination is based on HMRC’s best estimate, HMRC is unlikely to be aware of all of the reliefs available to a taxpayer. Taxpayers should also seek to bring their filings up to date as it also ensures that all available claims and elections are made.

When is a determination used?

HMRC has the power to issue tax determinations in the absence of a self-assessment return being submitted to HMRC.


If a company has received a notice to deliver a Tax Return

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