Monday, December 8, 2008

HMRC Business Payment Support Service

What HMRC are saying is that if you want to spread your tax bills, phone a special number and explain what you want to them. Here's the relevant page on their website:
Business Payment Support Service

It's clearly a good idea and has been sanctioned by the Chancellor so HMRC debt management officers should do as they are told. Interest will of course continue to be charged on the late payment of all the taxes involved - so no 'free credit' here. It does mean though that HMRC should hold off sending in the bailiffs and the heavy mob as quickly as they might otherwise have done. At least this way they know you're going to take your time.

For those accountants whose clients may need to take advantage of this facility there is an important caveat. HMRC will only be prepared to discuss and agree payment terms with taxpayers. [EDIT: HMRC have since confirmed that they WILL deal with agents - see comment below]

I would suggest that accountants sending letters to clients notifying them of their forthcoming tax liabilities (eg: on 31 December and 31 January) should include reference to:
- the facility to ask for time to pay,
- details of the phone number to call,
- the information the clients will need to have to hand, AND
- a request to advise you of any such terms that are agreed.


  1. Funny thing is that I have taken on a couple of new clients recently and have been amazed that HMRC had not kicked down their doors already given the amounts outstanding on their statements of account. I had been wondering whether staff cuts had already reduced their ability to collect long outstanding liabilities or had delayed the process considerably.

    Anyway, good advice, Mark.

  2. HMRC have now explained the following for agents:
    Using the service on your client’s behalf
    If you have authority to act on your client’s behalf, through a form 64-8 or an online agent authorisation, we can discuss your client’s tax affairs with you. We can also agree a payment arrangement with you - but may also need to speak to your client to set up payments through direct debit.

    If you wish to discuss a client business’ payment position that is not already the subject of a time to pay arrangement and hold an authorisation for that client, you should call the Business Payment Support Line Tel 0845 302 1435.

    The Support Line deals with all values of debts that are becoming due although some larger and complex cases may need to be referred to a specialist to deal with. Debts which are overdue may also have to be referred to a specialist who will contact the customer or agent within 4 working days.

    For all other issues you should continue to use the regular contact numbers, such as the Agent Dedicated Lines for Self Assessment and PAYE matters.