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Error #5017 - Known Facts Check - Failed to match tax reference

Article ID: 3150
Last updated: 05 Apr, 2022

‘SuRF’ (Suspected Repayment Fraud) Letters (FBI error 5017)

Error 5017: Failed to match Tax Reference

The individuals UTR for this tax return has been ‘blocked’ by HMRC.

A repayment claim made in a previous tax year, has failed routine compliance checks

HMRC will have sent a SuRF1 letter, for identity checks which must be actioned within 30 days

An address change without notifying HMRC of the change may mean the SURF1 is not received

If HMRC are not contacted, the SA record will be closed and UTR will ‘blocked’ from further use

As advised by HMRC

When a customer submits a Self-Assessment tax return resulting in a repayment of tax being owed to them, HMRC undertakes routine checks to ensure the claim is genuine and to identify potential compliance risk. Where our risk indicators suggest that the customer or claim may not be legitimate, we will contact the customer to confirm their identity. This will include the requirement for the customer to provide documentary evidence to prove who they are, and to answer some basic questions with regards to the repayment request they have submitted. We recognise that a small number of genuine claimants may receive our letters. We try to keep this process as simple and as possible, but the customer must still respond as requested to the letter. If the customer is uncertain about any aspect of the correspondence or needs additional support, they should contact us on the official Self-Assessment helpline number provided.

The letters HMRC issue are targeted at fraudsters; not genuine customers. As part of increased efforts, the SuRF letters have been refined further.


- Where our indicators and intelligence highlight a heightened risk of fraud, we issue the SuRF1 letter to the customer, advising we believe the UTR may have been used to submit a potentially fraudulent repayment claim.

- If the customer has submitted the repayment claim, we ask them to call us within 30 days (on the standard Self-Assessment helpline number provided).

- If we do not hear from the customer, based on our original intelligence coupled with the lack of contact, we will cancel the repayment claim and close down the Self- Assessment record and UTR in due course. This prevents the record/UTR from being used again for further repayment claims, for Covid Scheme abuse, and in other fraudulent activity across HMRC and DWP.


- If a genuine customer receives the letter, they will contact us and at that point we issue the SuRF2 letter asking them to provide evidence of their identity in accordance with the list of options provided. These options include ID to which we would expect the vast majority of customers to have ready access.

- We also ask the customer to submit a brief Repayment Questionnaire which should take around 15 minutes to complete. As this activity is aimed at fraudsters, the information we ask for is targeted to enable us to understand the activity leading to the potentially fraudulent repayment request. That helps us to determine the next course of action on our cases. This is also a disclosure route for individuals who may have been a victim of fraud orchestrated by somebody else.

Although we are continually refining our process, we recognise that a small number of genuine claimants will receive our letters. Our aim is to keep the burden on them as low as possible.

Article ID: 3150
Last updated: 05 Apr, 2022
Revision: 5
Views: 3236
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