As part of the government support package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
At a glance
- The arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
- HMRC have a dedicated helpline on 0800 024 1222 specifically to deal with COVID-19 related time to pay requirements.
To date, no special arrangements have been announced over and above the existing time to pay support offered by HMRC. HMRC have said that they will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:
- Agreeing an instalment arrangement.
- Suspending debt collection proceedings.
- Cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.
The rate of interest on underpaid tax has been reduced to 0.1% with effect from 30 March 2020 for quarterly instalment payments and 7 April 2020 for non-quarterly instalment payments.
Existing Time to Pay scheme
The key points to note with the existing time to pay scheme are:
- If you know you will have difficulties making your tax payments, you should contact HMRC as soon as possible. HMRC’s systems do not allow payment arrangements to be set up too far in advance meaning that you may need to contact them 1-2 weeks before the due date for the payment.
- You should make sure as far as possible that all returns are filed up to date. HMRC are more likely to agree payment arrangements if there are no outstanding returns.
- HMRC may require cashflow forecasts, budgets and details of assets and liabilities to support the request for time to pay.
- HMRC will expect you to tell them how much you can afford. They will not tell you. You should expect to pay a fixed amount each month.
- Do not be overambitious, it is better to take longer to pay than to commit to something unrealistic and then not be able to meet the agreed amounts and payment schedule.
- Once you have an agreement in place you must pay future tax liabilities on time or renegotiate your arrangements to include them.
- As long as you have an agreement in place before the deadline for late payment penalties to be charged you will not have to pay penalties. Under current arrangements interest remains due.
- If your business has multiple tax debts you may need to prioritise which you pay and which you seek time to pay for. It can be harder to negotiate arrangements for VAT, PAYE and NICs than for Income Tax and Corporation Tax so consider whether you should pay these first.
- If you do not agree time to pay arrangements with HMRC and fail to pay your tax interest and penalties will be charged. It is not yet clear to what extent HMRC may waive penalties due to COVID-19.
Links to our guides
COVID-19: Government support tracker
This tracker covers measures announced by the government to support individuals and businesses, as we get through COVID-19.
HMRC guidance: If you cannot pay your tax bill on time