HMRC’s Coronavirus Time to Pay helpline – What to expect when you contact them

Hillier Hopkins LLP

Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisers

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We thought it might help to hear of some real experience in talking to HMRC about time to pay.  Overall, our conclusion is that they are extremely helpful and HMRC are genuinely attempting to support businesses. It took a long time to get through, understandable in the circumstances, but worthwhile given the outcome.

Here’s what happened…..

They are dealing with a huge volume of calls at the moment so it will take a long time to get through. It took 2 hours on hold. So, once you’re in the queue, make yourself a cuppa and settle down for a bit of a wait.

Once through, the whole call was less than 5 minutes long.

The purpose of the call was actually to agree a PAYE deferral but without any prompting the officer included VAT too. They said that HMRC’s current position is that they need to treat all taxpayers equally so for most business who call up they will agree:

  1. To defer the PAYE due in March
  2. To defer the PAYE due in April
  3. To defer the next quarter’s VAT

The total debt across all three for this business was around £1m. HMRC didn’t ask any questions about cash-flow or the business etc.

They stressed many times that all returns must be filed on time. They said a default surcharge for the VAT might be issued automatically but this will be removed upon request.

As it stands interest for late payment of the PAYE will be charged as that’s what statute says but Parliament may change the rules on that in due course. Either way there will be no penalties.

HMRC will expect a further call back by 30 April 2020 to discuss the next steps. They said they suspect that that businesses will be given the option to defer a further one or two month’s PAYE. Businesses will then need to call back again at the end of June to agree a repayment plan by direct debit for the total arrears assuming things are back to normal by then. This is the point at which the detailed budget/forecasts will be required with a repayment plan.

The helpline is open Monday – Friday 8am to 4pm. Call 0800 024 1222 or visit their website for more information https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

For help and advice, please speak to your usual Hillier Hopkins adviser or contact us on 0330 024 3200.

Stay right up to date with all the latest developments and guidance on our Coronavirus Updates page.