HMRC has published a paper setting out its approach to collecting tax debts and supporting taxpayers as the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
The paper states that HMRC will be resuming its debt collection work this summer and will be contacting taxpayers who have fallen behind with tax payments. HMRC indicates that it will take “an understanding and supportive approach” to dealing with those who have tax debts or are concerned about their ability to pay their tax.
Taxpayers will be contacted by phone, post or text and a check can be made to ensure the contact is genuine at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/identify-hmrc-related-scam-phone-calls-emails-and-text-messages. HMRC urge taxpayers to respond to such contact as soon as possible because, unless they can discuss the situation, they cannot differentiate between those who need support and those who are simply refusing to pay. The latter may receive a visit from an HMRC debt collection officer and HMRC will start enforcement proceedings.
Those who respond to the contact can expect HMRC to work with them to find a way to clear tax debt. In addition to existing support such as Time to Pay arrangements, short term deferrals and help with accessing government-backed lending support, HMRC is also part of the new Debt Respite Scheme which has been introduced in England and Wales. This is a government scheme designed to help people who are struggling to cope with debt, including tax debt, by allowing them to apply to a debt adviser for breathing space during which time creditors must suspend all enforcement activity and all interest and late payment penalties stop. More information about this scheme is available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance