We owe HMRC and they have served a Notice of Enforcement by Distraint. What can we do?
What is a Notice of Enforcement by HMRC?
This is where HMRC has the power to take control of your goods and sell them at auction in settlement of an unpaid tax bill.
Who can use distraint ?
Any creditor has the power to serve a Notice of Enforcement if they obtain a court order. HMRC or landlords do not need a court order, however they must still obey strict regulations to retrieve debt.
If you owe taxes, the first step in the process is usually a visit by an HMRC field officer who is usually based locally and whose initial purpose is to check the address and make contact.
After that they may serve a Notice of Enforcement and allow seven clear working days for the debtor to payment. If this is not paid in the time-frame, the HMRC officer can visit the premises and take control of the goods with a Controlled Goods Agreement.
Controlled Goods Agreement (previously Walking Possession)
This is where an HMRC officer has visited your premises having served a Notice of Enforcement. He /she has given seven days notice to pay back the debt, however if it hasn't been paid, the officer can visit the premises and take control of the goods.If the CGA is signed, the debtor then has another seven days notice to make payment. Goods can be removed and then sold if payment has not been made.
They can force their way into commercial premises but not residential or semi mixed use premises. They cannot climb in the window. They must use normal mode of entry.
Effectively if you do not reach a deal or pay in full the field officer can remove and sell the assets in 7 days. To sell the assets, after they are covered by a CGA is a criminal offence. The debtor when signing a CGA agrees to the EA/officer revisiting at any time to inspect or remove the goods.
Threats of taking control of goods should not be ignored. KSA Group is witnessing a sharp increase in the number of legal actions against our callers, coupled with growing numbers of winding up petitions being issued by HMRC. The intent of HMRC is clear if directors don't act HMRC will.
If you do not agree that you owe the tax demanded, you should tell the HMRC officer, but you will find that he/she is in a non-negotiable position once he/she is on the premises.
So, if you have a legal threat or have been visited by an HMRC officer , then you must ACT. In the event that the business is not viable going forward call us and we can put the company into liquidation quickly and lower the risk of personal liability.
What can I do on the day?
- In the first instance you should check who the HMRC officer or Enforcement Officer is. If they are an HMRC officer coming to carry out enforcement then he/she will hold an HMRC identity card.
- Is the bill in dispute? If so, then you should contact the HMRC office demanding payment.However, it should be noted that if you do dispute the bill then you should do it in response to the warning letters that have been sent.Sometimes the amount HMRC is seeking to collect may be under appeal. In this instance the HMRC officer can be asked to leave and the goods won't be taken control of.
- You could pay the money. It may be the only way to save the business.
Alternatively, if the you feel you can pay the debt and have a viable business but need more time to put a rescue plan together then we can help. Perhaps a company voluntary arrangement where you agree to pay off a proportion of the debt over a period of 3-5 years can be used. There are other options such as administration. Give us a call and we will take you through ALL the options free of charge and with a friendly attitude.
Note that a notice of liquidation or a notice of intention to appoint can halt proceedings and can stop goods being removed.
For a little more on HMRC and their power of distraint to take control of goods, read their PDF Guide
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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