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HMRC announces changes to the way it handles mail

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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to introduce changes to the way it deals with mail items concerning tax returns.

The tax authority has said that it receives millions of items of post each year in relation to enquiries into customer returns.

To manage the process more efficiently in the future, HMRC intends to scan incoming post.

The scanned material will be assigned to cases using electronic document management systems. Documents will be scanned in accordance with the British Standard Institute BSI DISC PD0008.

The new system is to be introduced in phases, the first of which will roll out in March 2011 and will continue during 2011/12.

A single PO Box address will be used to identify mail that is part of the process, and HMRC will make the address clear on outgoing correspondence.

In addition to the PO Box address, HMRC will provide a reference that must be stated on replies to the tax authority. The reference will be prefixed by one of the following: CFS, CFSS or CFSC.

For any agents wishing to send replies for more than one customer in the same envelope, HMRC is asking that the documentation be separated with individual covering letters ensuring the case reference is clearly stated on the letters.

When HMRC receives correspondence, it will be scanned and linked to the relevant case usually within 36 hours of receipt.

Some original documents will be returned as matter of course after they have been scanned. These include: P60s, birth, death and marriage certificates, and passports.

But correspondents will have to state if they want any other supporting documents to be returned. If they do not ask for documents to be returned, they will be securely destroyed, together with the covering letter, within 40 days of receipt.