The cuddly HM Revenue & Customers have coughed what they intend to do about businesses and the self-employed who are in debt with their tax. You might have thought that they would have sent one of their kindlier looking tax collectors down your chimney with a bouquet of flowers and a blank cheque for you to sign. Not quite. They announced today that they are restarting their debt collection work as we emerge from the pandemic and economic activity resumes but that at all times - and write this down just in case they overflex their muscles in your direction - they will 'take an understanding and supportive approach to dealing with those who have tax debts or are concerned about their ability to pay tax.'
They will discuss affordable options such as a payment plan (they have more than half a million arrangements in place at any one time) or they may be able to offer a short-term deferral. But - and this sounds a bit ominous- where customers (clients would be nicer) do not respond to any of their communications or refuse to pay when they can afford to do so, they may try to visit them at their home or business address. 'I'm sorry but he's just gone out to have his toenails filed and won't be back until tomorrow. Who shall I say called?'
From September 2021, where customers are unwilling to discuss a payment plan or ignore contact attempts, Revenue & Customs may start the process of using their enforcement powers: bailiff and bankruptcy included.
In the new edition of Breaking Law I look at how to deal with the taxmen, particularly when they overstep the mark. If you are behind with your tax, you may say that you can hardly afford to 'buy that b....y book.' Fair enough but it can be sued as a door stop when not being read: over 750 pages.