Debt collection advice from HMRC

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HMRC have published a “What to expect when we visit you” leaflet for people and businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland explaining what to expect when HMRC pay a visit to collect a debt owed to them. This leaflet will, from 13 August, be presented to debtors on HMRC’s arrival at their premises according to Harris & Co chartered accountants Northampton, the small business accountants.

HMRC will resort to visits only after attempts to contact debtors by post and/or by phone have failed. The visits will be conducted by HMRC’s Field Force Collectors who will carry HMRC ID. Those who require further verification may contact HMRC’s Field Force Verification Helpline number at 0300 200 3862 with the ID number of the collector.

Debtors facing HMRC visits can expect their goods to be seized by Field Force Collectors in order to settle their debt if they are unable to pay in full. The collector is empowered to select goods from the taxpayer’s home or business, list them on an inventory form C204 Distraint notice and inventory, and then arrange for an auctioneer to take them away.

A copy of the C204 inventory, stating the date when the Walking Possession Agreement expires and the address where payment can be made in order to stop the listed goods being removed, will be left with the taxpayer. The taxpayer must settle the debt plus the costs detailed on the C204 to avoid seizure of goods. Otherwise, they must allow access to an auctioneer who will then remove the goods.

A separate version of the leaflet has been published for debtors based in Scotland because under Scottish law, HMRC do not have the right to seize goods for debt settlement. If the debtor is unable or unwilling to satisfy the outstanding debt during a visit, HMRV may resort to legal alternatives for enforcement of collection, including a Summary Warrant, and/or a winding up process of a business if appropriate, or sequestration of the estates of the debtor under Section 12 of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 2005.

More details are available from HMRC.

The leaflets for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are available here.

The leaflets for Scotland are available here.

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