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Spreading your tax costs with Time To Pay

Spreading your tax costs with Time To Pay

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expects you to pay your taxes on time. But if you’re finding it difficult to pay in full, HMRC can be approached to allow a Time to Pay arrangement.

A Time to Pay arrangement will allow you to pay your debt off in pre-agreed installments, reducing the impact of a large tax bill – and helping you manage your debt and cashflow.

How does Time to Pay work?

If you need to request a Time to Pay arrangement for self-assessment tax, Employer’s PAYE and VAT, these can often be made online using a ‘self-service’ system.

Where you owe other types of tax, or where the conditions for online applications are not met, you’ll need to contact HMRC to discuss your situation.

  • The easiest (although not always the quickest) way to discuss your Time to Pay request is by telephone to 0300 200 3835.

  • HMRC agents will want to know about all taxes you owe, not just the one(s) where you want to spread payment. They will also ask for details of your income and outgoings, and any savings or assets that may be able to be used to reduce the amount owed.

  • Presuming that you agree to a payment plan with HMRC during the call, they will usually want to set up a Direct Debit straight away.

Making use of the self-serve Time to Pay system

If you don't have any existing payment plans or debts with HMRC, the ‘self-serve’ system may be more straightforward, provided that the applicable tax returns have already been filed. The conditions and amounts vary depending on the particular tax.

For example:

  • Self-Assessment: You must apply no more than 60 days after the payment deadline and owe no more than £30,000.

  • Employer’s PAYE: You must be within 35 days of the deadline, owe no more than £15,000 and have no outstanding penalties. The maximum period over which the amount due can be spread is six months.

  • VAT: For VAT, you need to apply within 28 days of the due date and owe no more than £20,000. You can’t apply for a Time to Pay arrangement through the self-serve scheme if you use either the cash accounting or annual accounting schemes.

The self-serve option for Time to Pay does make the process easier, but remember that HMRC isn’t obliged to offer you the option of settling your taxes owed via installments.

If you fail to pay your taxes, HMRC can take recovery action in the County Court, and apply for the taxpayer to be put into liquidation or made bankrupt where appropriate.

Talk to us about making Time to Pay work for you

One of the best ways to avoid getting into difficulties with your tax liabilities is to work more closely with your accountant. As your tax adviser, we’ll produce regular forecasts so that any financial stresses can be foreseen well in advance.

Where unexpected circumstances do arise, putting a suitable payment plan in place with HMRC is the most sensible way to manage this situation. Ignoring your tax problems won’t make them go away and burying your head in the sand can lead to serious penalties and legal action.

Get in touch to talk about Time to Pay.