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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Claims Manual

Overpayment relief: Special relief: Taxpayers who need extra support

Where HMRC has issued a determination, the time limit for displacing the determination is the later of:

  • 3 years from the filing date for the return which the person did not submit, or
  • 12 months from the date of the determination.

HMRC provide assistance to people who need extra support in dealing with the tax system through the Needs Extra Support (NES) service. For some people who need extra support, dealing with their tax affairs for an extended period may be difficult.

To qualify for special relief, see SACM12215, the person’s requirement for extra support will normally be present throughout the period from the issue of the determination to the expiry of the time limit to displace that determination. Examples of such long term issues include mental illness and learning difficulties.

People may be reluctant to disclose details of health conditions or issues which affect their capability. HMRC often don’t find out about these problems until late in the special relief claim process. Whenever we consider that there may be health or capability issues, it is important that we handle the issue sensitively.

We need to ask the right type of questions:

  • what is the nature of their condition?
  • does it affect their ability to manage their tax affairs - if so, how?
  • does it affect their ability to deal or communicate with HMRC - if so, how?
  • does anyone help them manage their tax affairs, such as a family member, friend or agent - if so, what arrangements are in place for this person to deal with HMRC on their behalf?

Asking the customer for evidence of their condition

In most cases we may require the customer to provide evidence of their condition to help us decide whether their condition should be taken into account in support of their claim to special relief. Where it is appropriate to obtain evidence you need to:

  • explain what evidence you require - as a minimum, evidence needs to include confirmation of the nature of the condition and how it affects their ability to carry out their normal day-to-day activities, particularly in relation to their ability to manage their tax affairs
  • the period over which their condition has affected their ability to manage their tax affairs.

Evidence of a customer’s condition can come from a number of sources. Acceptable sources include:

  • a doctor
  • a mental health professional
  • a social care professional.

Where the person can show evidence that their condition has affected their ability to manage their tax affairs throughout the period between the issue of the determination and the expiry of the time limit for displacing the determination, you should allow special relief.

Company determinations

It is unlikely that a company determination would meet the criteria for special relief where one director needs extra support. We would expect the other directors to manage the tax affairs of the company. But there may be exceptional cases where the company is entirely dependent on one director or all directors need extra support. In those cases you should follow the guidance above to establish whether special relief is due.