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For UK Taxpayers Concerned about the Financial Impact of the Coronavirus

Coronavirus is causing uncertainty over finances - here's some information to help UK taxpayers who may be worried about paying taxes.

Samantha Adams

Samantha Adams

Thu Mar 19 2020

To say the markets have gone crazy as a result of the Coronavirus is an understatement. We've watched as the price of Bitcoin has crashed and there's no telling how much further it is going to drop or if it will recover tomorrow. The real worry for many people right now is how they're going to get by over the next few months and how they are going to pay their taxes.

HMRC issues penalties and any late payments can also face interest which accrues rapidly so if you have concerns; it's better to prepare now. Many people are in the same boat, and HMRC has put a few things in place to help those with difficulty paying. The action you need to take depends on your situation and the size of your tax bill...

If you cannot pay because of Coronavirus:

HMRC has set up a new helpline to help those concerned to get practical help and advice.

HMRC Coronavirus Helpline Tel: 0800 015 9559 Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm
Saturday, 8am - 4pm

If you cannot pay your Self Assessment tax bill:

If you are concerned over your self-assessment tax bill and owe less than £10,000, you may be able to arrange to pay in instalments; you can manage this yourself online without having to call the HMRC.

If you have missed a payment date or can't use the online service then you should call the Self Assessment Payment Helpline:

Self Assessment Payment Helpline Telephone: 0300 200 3822 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm Saturday, 8am to 4pm

Information about HMRC call costs can be found here.

What happens when you contact HMRC?

Firstly they'll ask a few details so have everything to hand:

  • your reference number (your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference or VAT reference number)
  • the amount of the tax bill you're finding difficult to pay and the reasons why
  • what you've done to try to get the money to pay the bill
  • how much you can pay immediately and how long you may need to pay the rest
  • your bank account details

HMRC will assess your circumstances by asking you about:

  • your income and expenditure
  • any assets, like savings and investments
  • what you're doing to get your tax payments back in order

Dependent on individual circumstances HMRC may discuss:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.

Usually, HMRC makes a decision immediately and try to help you get your payments back on track if they think you genuinely cannot pay in full. It is best to be as honest as possible about your situation so that you come to a sustainable agreement.

If you have used the service before you can expect to be asked more in-depth questions, and you may also be asked to provide evidence.


The Coronavirus is having an impact for all financially, and regulators are reacting and providing help as the situation develops. It should be comforting to know that you're not the only one worried. HMRC is constantly assessing what's going on and providing more and updated support accordingly. The best approach you can take is to be proactive and contact them rather than let your situation spiral out of control. If you've got some free time on your hands then why not check out Recap where you can discover what tax you owe or what losses you can claim for free.

Social distancing? Self-isolation? Bring it on! The crypto community have been at their keyboards doing this alone together thing for years. See you on the other side!