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SURF 1 and SURF 2 Tax Letters from HMRC

There’s been a sharp increase in SURF 1 and SURF 2 tax letters from HMRC. This is especially regarding those filling in their tax return for the 2020/2021 tax year. If you have claimed a self-assessment tax repayment, then HMRC may have sent you a SURF 1 letter to verify certain information and confirm the validity of your tax repayment. This is currently happening more and more due to an increase in claims for tax repayment due to the impact of the Coronavirus and the investible increase in fraud. If you’re confused whether this affects you, read on to find out more.

Updated 1 October 2021

Friendly Disclaimer: Whilst I am an accountant, I’m not your accountant. The information in this article is legally correct but it is for guidance and information purposes only. Everyone’s situation is different and unique so you’ll need to use your own best judgement when applying the advice that I give to your situation. If you are unsure or have a question be sure to contact a qualified professional because mistakes can result in penalties.

1. What is a SURF1 Letter to Verify a Self Assessment Repayment Claim?

The first step in HMRC’s verification process is to send the taxpayer named on the tax return submitted in relation to the repayment a letter by post (SURF1). They will ask to call them within 30 days. If HMRC does not hear from you within 30 days they will assume that the claim is fraudulent and take steps to cancel the tax return filed and cancel the associated UTR number. That means it is really important you call HMRC on the phone number provided in your letter ASAP.

2. What is a SURF2 Letter?

Once you’ve confirmed that you are the taxpayer that submitted the self-assessment repayment claim, HMRC will then post another letter out to you, known as a SURF2.

In the SURF2, HMRC will request further information so you can prove your identity. It’s important to remember that this is not a tax investigation. It is merely a way of checking that the person who receives the tax repayment is not getting this money illegally. Most likely, you’ll need to send back:

  • A recent bank statement that matches the bank details you entered for your repayment on your tax return;
  • Proof of address, for example, a utility bill;
  • Proof of identity, for example, driving licence or passport;
  • A completed R38 tax repayment form.

You must send the requested information to HMRC by post. Therefore, make sure you send good quality copies to avoid any further delays in getting your self-assessment repayment if you have received HMRC SURF 1 and SURF 2 Tax Letters.