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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Time To Pay: considering Time To Pay requests: special situations - disasters and emergencies

Emergency situations

Exceptionally, situations may arise that have an adverse affect on our customers’ ability to pay. Examples of this are wars, terrorist activity the economic collapse of a major business/employer and natural disasters such as flooding, Foot and Mouth disease and so on.


Following widespread floods in 2007 legislation was introduced in the Finance Act 2008 (section 135) which allows interest, surcharges and late payment penalties to be waived during a specified relief period.

The disasters covered by this legislation are those that the Treasury deem to be of national significance and only the Treasury has the power to make an order under this section.

How you will know that an order is in place

Normally, you will be advised by an Intranet message if such a situation exists, this will detail what action to take and whether you need to maintain and submit case details.

Surcharges, interest and late payment penalties are not to be waived unless an intranet message is issued specifically advising that an order has been issued allowing HMRC to do so.

An order issued under this legislation will clearly specify the dates in which the order is in force and will specify the relief period in which interest, surcharges and late payment penalties can be waived. Surcharges, interest and late payment penalties are not to be waived outside of this time period.

Past events and the treatment of interest, surcharges and late payment penalties do not set a precedent for the future and each event will be treated on its own merits.

How to deal with a customer affected by the special situation

The principles of Time To Pay (TTP) are still applied in these cases, see DMBM800040. You should initially find out the extent to which the customer has been affected by the situation. Whether they have been directly or indirectly affected, they may have a genuine reason why they cannot pay and HMRC want to support affected customers and help them fulfil their obligations. You need to be considerate and sympathetic to individual circumstances when considering any payment proposals.