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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

Appeals, postponements and reviews: postponements: what are formal and informal standovers?

There are two types of standover. It is important to understand the differences between them.


Formal Standover

A formal standover

  • Is used to standover any SA charge against which a postponement application may legally be made
  • Must be made in writing and can only apply to a charge that is the subject of an open appeal. It will often accompany an appeal but may be made separately at a later date
  • Has the effect of deferring the due dates of the amount postponed. This deferred due date is used for calculating surcharge. Note: For tax years 2010-2011 and later, surcharge was replaced by late payment penalties
  • Does not affect the reckonable date used for calculating interest
  • Causes the message ‘Currently suspended on Appeal’ to appear on the taxpayer’s statement in respect of the stoodover amount
  • Creates an entry on the ‘Open Appeals’ work list. (Also created when an appeal is recorded on the taxpayer’s SA record)
  • Will be automatically cancelled when the charge against which it relates is amended
  • May displace an informal standover

Formal standovers may be made against SA charges arising from a

Informal Standover

An informal standover need not be accompanied by an appeal. It should be used where

  • An appeal, which cannot be settled immediately, has been received against a fixed automatic penalty or surcharge for tax years 2009-2010 and earlier, or late payment penalties for tax years 2010-2011 and later. This applies even though there has been no postponement application
  • The officer recording the receipt of the postponement application is not authorised to agree the application and must refer it to an Inspector
  • It is required to allocate a payment to be made by a taxpayer against another charge
  • A legally due amount is not to be pursued and no appeal or formal standover request has been received from the customer or agent

Allocate a payment

An informal standover can be used to postpone collection of a charge in order to ensure that a payment is set against another charge on the taxpayer’s SA record.


  • The taxpayer has two unpaid charges (A and B) on the SA record
  • The computer would normally allocate the first payment against charge A
  • You want to allocate the payment against charge B

In order to achieve this

  • Use function MAINTAIN STANDOVERS to informally standover the unpaid balance of charge A
  • When the payment is received it will be allocated against charge B
  • Check function VIEW STATEMENT to confirm that the payment is recorded against charge B
  • Use function MAINTAIN STANDOVERS again to reduce the informal standover to NIL

Other uses

An informal standover may also be recorded in respect of any unpaid amount when it is considered that there is justification for temporarily suspending collection of all or part of that amount. Examples of circumstances in which an informal standover is appropriate are where

  • There is no legal right to postpone payment of a charge but the taxpayer appeals against the charge and makes an application to postpone payment and it is considered that there are grounds for standing over the charge
  • There has been an MP complaint
  • Payment is alleged to have been made
  • A Student Loan borrower has complained that the amount outstanding on the loan is less than that being requested in the SA calculation
  • The recording of a formal standover has an effect on other charges. For example, if the charge arising from a Revenue assessment is formally stoodover following an appeal it may be appropriate to informally standover the following year’s payments on account pending the determination of the appeal. (Note: There is no legal right to apply for the payments on account to be formally stoodover, although the taxpayer can make a separate application for them to be reduced)
  • An underpayment arises on a partner’s record due to a mis-match between the partner’s share of the un-agreed partnership profits and the associated tax and Class 4 NIC credits. If the partner makes a claim in these circumstances the underpayment may be informally stoodover pending finalisation of the figures.

An informal standover

  • Does not affect either the reckonable date for interest or the due date from which surcharge is calculated. (But surcharge will not be calculated whilst an informal standover is recorded against the charge). Note: For tax years 2010-11 and later, surcharge was replaced by late payment penalties
  • Causes the message ‘Collection Suspended’ to appear on the taxpayer’s statement in respect of the stoodover amount
  • Creates an entry on the ‘Review Informal Standovers’ work list
  • Cannot replace a formal standover