If you have difficulty paying your tax bills due to COVID-19, it may be possible to negotiate with the Revenue and agree some extra time. This is because all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress may be eligible to receive support with their outstanding tax liabilities by using HMRC’s Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. You are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities. You can find more information here: https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc.
ow to improve your chances of being granted Time to Pay:
- Get the timing right – Contact HMRC as soon as you anticipate difficulty in making a payment. However, HMRC’s systems don’t make it easy to set up a payment arrangement too far in advance, so it’s probably best to phone HMRC about one to two weeks in advance of the due date for payment.
- Make sure your returns are up to date – this goes without saying!
- Demonstrate your financial standing – before phoning HMRC have some simple financial forecasts and a statement of assets and liabilities available. You’ll be expected to make the best offer you can and to suggest the amount that you’ll commit to making as a regular payment.
- Be prepared to set up a monthly payment plan – HMRC will usually expect to collect your payments each month by direct debit. Most HMRC staff have the authority to agree time to pay arrangements over a period of up to 12 months maximum.
- Expect robust questioning – Although HMRC’s response may be different due to Covid-19, be prepared for some intrusive questioning, have all the relevant information to hand and stay as calm and professional as possible.
- Keep in mind your future tax liabilities – A standard term of HMRC time to pay agreements is that future tax liabilities are paid in full as they fall due. Where this is not possible it is necessary to contact HMRC again to renegotiate the arrangement to include the new debt. HMRC is often reluctant to agreed repeated requests for time to pay but may be more amenable in the current situation.
If you think you might miss your next tax payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. The helpline is open from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm (excluding bank holidays). If you would like to discuss any queries or concerns with us first, please send us an email and we’ll support you in any way we can.